26/11 case: HC seeks info on steps to award bomb squad men
The Bombay High Court on Monday asked the Maharashtra government to inform it of the follow-up action it had taken after the state Director General of Police wrote to the Centre recommending gallantry awards to police bomb disposal squad, who risked their lives during the 26/11 terror attacks.
The direction was given by a bench headed by Justice P V Hardas on a PIL filed by former scribe Ketan Tirodkar demanding 'Ashok Chakra' awards to martyrs of Mumbai terror attacks and petrol pump allotments to their kin.
Government pleader Aruna Pai informed that the DGP had written a letter to the Centre recommending awards for the bomb disposal squad of the police department.
Tirodkar said that no one from the Bomb Disposal Squad who was involved in defusing hand grenades, bombs and other explosives during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks was insured. Such people always work during crisis at the risk of their lives and hence they should be suitably rewarded.
The Court asked the state government to inform after two weeks what follow up measures it had taken with the Union Government after the DGP recommended awards for the bomb disposal squad members.
The PIL said that efforts of all policemen who had died fighting Pakistani terrorists including Mohammed Amir Kasab, during the dastardly attacks on November 26, 2008 should be recognised with Ashok Chakra, the country's highest gallantry award.
It said that just as top officers like Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamate and Vijay Salaskar and Tukaram Ombale were given Ashok Chakras, other policemen who fought Pakistani terrorists and died bravely in the line of duty, should also be considered for the award.
Even the bomb disposal squad had never been considered for gallantry awards, the PIL said. The Centre had awarded petrol pumps to families of Karkare, Salaskar and Kamte. This facility should also be extended to other martyrs, it stressed.
The Maharashtra government has earlier said that the Ashok Chakra was given by the Union Home Ministry and petrol pump allotments were given by the Petroleum Ministry. As such, it did not present these awards and it was the prerogative of union government.
The petition was therefore "devoid of merit" and deserved to be dismissed, the Maharashtra government's Under Secretary Kailas Bilonkikar had said in an affidavit.