On March 21st 2009,4 police officers of the Oakland Police Dept. in California were shot and killed by a criminal after a standoff. This was the top headline of the day and for the next few days. There was an immediate outpouring of grief for the dead men and support for the police department from all quarters: the common man, the media, the politicians. A few days later, a funeral/memorial service was held for them at a local stadium. Thousands attended the service. There was live coverage of the service by all local television stations. The fallen men's friends and coworkers came forward and spoke about them: about their lives and loves and memories of the past and dreams of the future. It was truly touching. Of course, there might have been some who felt that the event was politicised; senators were present, so was the Governor! But discounting that, all in all, I felt this was a fitting tribute to those who died fighting "the bad guys".
It made me think of Constable Tukaram Ombale, the brave Mumbai policeman who tackled Ajmal Kasab, one of the terrorists of the Mumbai terror attacks on Nov. 26th, 2008. He was armed with just a lathi - yes, just a baton - and yet, he jumped this guy who had sophisticated guns and who started shooting at him. He caught hold of Kasab's gun and even after being shot mutliple times in the stomach, did not let go of the gun. This gave the other cops the chance to attack Kasab (again, with just lathis) and thus capture him. I cannot even imagine the guts of Constable Ombale to be hugging the barrel of a gun that's spitting lead into him!
And watching the Oakland policemen's funeral, I thought to myself, did we, as Indians, value what constable Ombale did? Do we appreciate the enormity of his actions? If it had not been for him, the only terrorist caught alive in the whole attack wouldn't have been! And what is being done for Mr.Ombale's family today? Do we know? Do we care? After all the noise and hoopla from the political parties has died down, when there are more "current" affairs to look at, do we remember this courageous man who showed bravery in the most frightening of situations?
And then I read that Constable Tukaram Ombale is going to be awarded the Ashok Chakra. Well, some little corner of my heart is satisfied.