Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hemant Karkare: Progressive and Secular to the Core

Here is one of the best, and most revealing, obits of Hemant Karkare. It appeared in today's DNA.


'He always led from the front'

Neeta Kolhatkar / DNA

Sunday, November 30, 2008 03:26 IST

Hemant Karkare, the Anti-Terrorist Squad chief was born into a Maharashtrian Brahmin family in Sagar, Madhya Pradesh where his parents lived. His father, Kamlakar worked in Central Railways as a guard and his mother was a teacher.

The family moved to Nagpur when Karkare was in the sixth standard. His mother Kumudini who had both bachelor's and master's degrees in education, after her marriage, taught at D Dinanath School.

Karkare's childhood friends remember the family as warm, simple, rational and highly educated. "Kamlakar and I were worked together. He was an active trade unionist of National Railway Mazdoor Union and All-India Guards Council," recalls Narayan Rao, secretary of Maharashtra unit for All India Peace and Solidarity Organisation, an affiliate of World Peace Organisation.

Kamlakar was a great influence on Hemant. "He inherited his father's qualities of being rational and able to identify with the masses," Rao says.

Kamlakar was close to AB Bardhan, general secretary of the Communist Party of India. "Kamlakar helped the poor, he would give them homeopathic medicines," he added. He was also inspired by his mother's resilience and was his role model.

"The one thing that stands out about the Karkare family is that while they were Brahmins, who were not atheists but were never pro-RSS. His family was far from fundamentalist Brahmins you meet in this city," says Rao.

Hemant studied at the New English High School in Nagpur. "When the bigger boys bullied him, he would just ignore them," says his friend Colonel Rahul Goverdhan.

Hermant later went on to study Mechanical engineering. He then joined Hindustan Lever, appeared for his UPSC exams and joined the Indian Police Services.

Karkare was an excellent sculptor. He made lampshades and artefacts from wood. As SP, Chandrapur, he had learnt these skills from local artisans. He even helped them sell their wares. Hemant would make gifts for his friends and family like photo frames," recalls Avinash Joshi, a friend.

Goverdhan says Karkare liked to take charge of things. "The day he was to take over as SP Chandrapur, there was an attack on the police. Hemant went and opened the police station and lead the attack on the Naxals. He always wanted his men to know they could count on him,"says Goverdhan.

Karkare's colleagues from the ministry of external affairs remember him as a teacher to them. "We worked in Vienna many years ago. He was my guru," says Kamaldeep Khanna, an officer with MEA.

Hemant was just 54 when his career was cut short. He is survived by his wife Kavita, a teacher, the backbone of the family.


  1. this is a surprise to me! just came across my article, that you think was most revealing & best...all i can say is thanks...i owed my hero police officer that much...well, all i can say is hope people will read about this great man & ralise what a big loss it is for us all...

    I wasn't here for few onths & i was told that someone read on the net about i realise where...thanks

  2. Hi Neeta

    Thanks for the thanks! Yes, at that time, I did feel that this obit brought out facets of Karkare's life that were not told by many. After this, I realised from where his worldview came from.

    Though Kavita Karkare poured cold water later by saying "his father was a communist and mother a bjp supporter. He took the best from both"!!! What good to take from fascism?