Speaking to the press 11 years after the death of her father and former Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare, Jui Navare, his eldest daughter, said that his profession had come even before his life and his family.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Navare said, “He taught us that terrorism has no religion. No religion teaches anyone to kill each other… it’s the ideology that has to be defeated. In his life, in his 24-year career in the police, he helped everyone. Even in his death he was trying to save his city, his country. He loved his uniform and placed it before us and before his own life.”
In the interview to The Indian Express, from her home in the United States, Navare spoke about her father, his passion for his job and Pragya Singh Thakur’s comment on the 26/11 martyr.
‘Funeral Still Fresh in My Memory’
Navare remembered the circumstances of her father’s death in 2008, saying that it had been a time for celebration for her in Boston, where she had been living then. On her way out to do some sightseeing with her cousins, she received the news from her younger sister that their father had been injured.
She described the next few moments, watching news channels on television switch from Hemant Karkare “injured” to “shot” to “shot three times”, till her sister finally confirmed the news that he had passed away.
“Then, I received my sister’s message, just two words in Marathi, ‘Papa gele (father is gone)’. I asked her how can she be so sure? She said she had started receiving condolence calls. I checked my inbox, emails had started trickling in. I decided to travel to India, immediately.”Jui Navare
On reaching India, she recalls seeing her mother sedated, lying in bed; she also remembers seeing her father’s shirt, hanging in the closet and realising that he would not be returning home again.
“The funeral is still fresh in my memory. The rituals, the flowers… So many people walking with his body during the procession. I was numb with shock. I still couldn’t believe it. I remember seeing my father’s cold body when it was brought to the house. My fingers lightly brushed against his cheek. I could not believe that this cold flesh belongs to my father because, for me, he was always so vibrant,” she told The Sunday Express.
She talks about the numerous condolence messages the family had received after Karkare’s death, especially remembering the calls from all over the world and two letters in particular — one from his primary school in Wardha and one from the residents of Malegaon.
‘I Listen to My Dad’s Voice’
Navare goes on to talk about her father’s last moments, established through the call log records that were brought to light by slain cop Ashok Kamte’s wife, Vinita after she filed an RTI. She says she still listens to the audio recordings of him requesting for reinforcements in his final moments.
“I listen to my dad’s voice. It has him giving instructions, requesting to call the Army. He can be heard speaking of firing, grenade blasts… I play them on loop. Those last words he spoke at 11:28 pm on 26 November — ‘ATS and QRT teams are here at the rear gate of the hospital, and so is the crime branch team. Therefore, we need a team from the front side. We need to ENCIRCLE the Cama and surround it’. I am never going to recover from it.”Jui Navare to The Indian Express
Navare says that she often reads the transcripts of this audio recordings; she also opens up her father’s collection of Somerset Maugham’s short stories. She adds that her mother’s poetry also gives her strength, as do her children, who helped her recover from her shock.
But she rues the fact that she can never pick up the phone and call her parents again, her mother having passed away six years after her husband died in the 26/11 attack.
‘Do Not Want to Dignify Thakur’s Statement With Response’
Recalling the days her father was working on the Malegaon blasts case, she says that even speaking to him for two minutes was rare because he was so busy. Though her mother was always worried that something would happen to him, Navare said that she believed her father was infallible and that nothing could happen to him.
She also said that she fully supported his findings and that he had done the correct thing. “He was an officer who went by the book. I know him as a daughter… A person like him would always ensure justice. It was always obvious for me… I never vocalised it,” she says.
Referring to Pragya Singh Thakur’s comment about Karkare dying because she had cursed him that unleashed social media outrage, Navare said that it did not deserve any attention.
“I do not want to comment on her (Thakur’s) statement. I do not want to dignify her or her statement. I only want to talk about Hemant Karkare. He was a role model and his name should be taken with dignity.”
Her father believed in a grassroots approach, she said, adding that even in his fight against the Naxals, he had never believed that bullets were the solution. She added that he had taught all his children that terrorism had no religion.
‘His Profession Was His First Calling’
She remembers how she always knew that his profession was his first calling, but was always made it a point to be present for all the important occasions. He had a motto of making time for things that were important, regardless of how busy he was, which also applied to his appearance and his routine.
She also told The Indian Express that he was always interested in interior decoration and had a certain sense of aesthetics. He had at one point even started learning wood art and created wooden artefacts, which Navare said she still keeps at her home.
His eternal love, though, was books, she said, being the son of a teacher. In keeping with this, he taught his children to read the classics to improve their English and increase their appreciation for literature. His second love was Marathi literature, Navare said, adding that his education had been in the medium and that he had moulded himself to become what he was. He had not been born with a silver spoon, she said.