On the night of November 26, 2008, Sadanand Date, then posted as the additional commissioner of police, central Mumbai, had gone home after a long day. An urgent call to his residence from his office would start a chain of events that led to the arrest of Ajmal Kasab.
Date had left his standard weapon in the office and was desperate to get hold of a AK-47 assault rifle. He rushed to the nearest police station from his house – the Malabar Hill police station – and picked up an antiquated 9 mm carbine and rounded up a few constables as the first few messages came over the wireless. Date then rushed to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus where reports said that two terrorists had been firing indiscriminately.
By the time Date and his team arrived at CST, Kasab and his fellow-terrorist Abu Ismail had already left the place. They terrorists had gone to the terrace of the nearby Cama Hospital and were planning to leave when Date’ team rushed up the stairs and began firing at them.
Date had no idea that terrorists, who were armed with AK-47s, hand grenades and a hand-held GPS, were specially-trained by the Lashkar-e-Toiba. He realised that it was no gang-war when the terrorists lobbed a grenade at him. He immediately tried to kick a door shut but the grenade blew and splinters hit him on the legs and the head.
Date would continue to fire at the terrorists while sending messages to anti-terrorist cell chief Hemant Karkare and additional commissioner Ashok Kamte who were trying to figure out the location of the terrorists. Date, who was losing blood, continued to engage the terrorists and delayed them by over an hour.
By the time Karkare and Kamte could respond, he had lost a lot of blood and finally lost consciousness. The two terrorists took a different route down and ran into bushes as soon as the car carrying Karkare, Kamte and Vijay Salaskar came around.
Kasab pushed an injured Ismail into another car and drove off only to be challenged by another police party that was manning a barricade. It was here that assistant police inspector Tukaram Ombale caught hold of Kasab before being killed. Date was later evacuated and it took months for his wounds to heal.
“The hanging is not a closure for us,” Date told DNA. “But this is a reiteration of the fact that our justice system can deliver. We have a long way to go and we will continue to keep watch.”
Four years after Kasab’s capture Date was one of the key officers who planned Kasab’s secret shift to Yerawada jail in Pune for his execution in the early hours of Wednesday.