A dedicated teacher, a brave government critic, a human rights activist – read how Kavita Karkare was much more than just a martyr’s widow. She fought for the truth and helped the families of constables and lower rank police officers to get their due from the government. A strong public speaker and a compassionate listener, here is why the whole country is mourning the death of this amazing soul.
Kavita Karkare, widow of former Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare who was killed in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, died on September 29, 2014 after suffering from brain haemorrhage. She was taken to Hinduja Hospital on Saturday in a critical condition when she fell into a coma and later succumbed to the illness. Her last rites were performed at Worli in South Mumbai.
A life saver
A woman of substance, Kavita, who always stood for what she believed was right, gave life to others even after dying. Her children donated her organs to three beneficiaries, giving them hope for a new lease of life.
One of her kidneys went to a man who was surviving on dialysis for over 10 years. The other kidney was given to a 59-year old patient who had been waiting for a transplant for over seven years. She also donated her liver to a patient and her eyes were donated to Parel’s Haji Bachooali Eye Bank.
A graceful woman, Kavita did not play the role of a tragic widow. She was much more than that, which is why the whole country is mourning her loss. She had been actively fighting for the compensatory rights to the families of constabulary and ranks.
When her husband died in the unfortunate attack which killed 166 people and injured more than 300, Kavita’s family was promised a “martyrs pension”. But even after several reminders and visits, they received only the regular “family pension”. Finally, she asked the officials to spend this money on police welfare.
Agitated by the events that took her husband’s life, she did not fear speaking openly against the government. She had also been vocal about security issues that led to her husband’s death.
“I do feel angry. This system has to be changed from within. There must be more transparency, politicians must be made accountable. If they do not perform, they must be removed,” she once said.
A brave public speaker
She also openly criticized the politicians for bringing religion and playing politics around the sacrifice of martyrs. Over the past few years, she has played a prominent role in fighting the paper war with the government to get various pension and compensation dues cleared for the families of constables.
A down-to-earth and compassionate woman, she would divide her time between her family, teaching and going out of the way to help families of junior officers. She had also been demanding better equipment, weapons and facilities for police personnel.
She recited a brave poem in Marathi at the launch of Ashok Kamte’s biography (Kamte was the Mumbai Police Additional Commissioner who was shot dead during 26/11). English translation is as follows-
Do not make the mistake of becoming a martyr in this country,
as you will be branded a headless chicken
and a dumb ass who went forward (to face the threat)
‘Why do martyrs get the Ashokchakra?’
Such will be the sophistries after your death.
The Ram Pradhan Committee will hang even the martyrs,
hence don’t make the mistake of becoming a martyr in this country
‘Why was timely help not provided during 26/11
or why were the bodies lying on the road for 40 minutes?’
Do not raise such questions as the wife of a martyr in this country.
Kavita was not just a martyr’s widow. She was much more than that and we hope her soul rests in peace.