The Informant

I was a disciple of Mr. S. M. Joshi.  As a student in Pune I had attended his meetings along with those of Baba Adav.  I had also joined the agitation of ‘Yukrand’ under Kumar Saptarshri. During those student days I was imprisoned for 15 days in the Yeravada Central Prison for participating in the agitation of the agriculture college students.

Through this exposure to socialist philosophy and movements, I was sensitized towards the sufferings of the poor and the injustice done to them.
Unable to bear the sight of people being oppressed by Ram & Sham, I got worked up due to our failure to apprehend them.

I had tried to find out why Ram & Sham had taken to a life of crime.  I looked deep into the police failure to put an end to their menace.  I used to wonder why the Thakur and Katkari community harassed by the duo did not unite to fight them.  I studied the communities from the social, economic and religious angles.  This helped me in understanding the phenomenon of crime in general.

It was necessary to get a proper informant to get anywhere near the two dacoits.  I started working in this direction.  However I could not devote all of my time to this single task.  The Shetkari Kamgar Party had launched a big agitation over the issue of acquisition of land for CIDCO and the Nehru Port.  They were demanding higher compensation. The issue of the traffic jam prone Mumbai-Pune highway took up my energies and besides, I had to supervise thirteen police stations.

I formed a team of trusted constables to constantly keep track of Ram & Sham.  Constables Udhav Jadhav, Ramesh Mahalle, and Head constable Ramesh Ghosalkar were amongst them.  I kept following up with them while managing other duties.  At last we did find a reliable informant.  We started getting information on movements of Ram & Sham.  We learnt that they had taken Shelter in the jungles in the vicinity of Nitalaj village, at the foot of Hajimalong Hills.  Plain clothes policemen in the team checked the place out from a distance Luckily a fair was going at Haji Malong.  I quietly observed their supposed hideout place from the Hajimalong hills, dressed in plain clothes.  I noticed some bullock carts on the road going to Hajimalong via Bamanwadi.

I decided to take advantage of this.  We would pretend to be pilgrims going to Haji Malang and storm their hide-out in broad day light.  I wanted to take them by surprise and arrest them.  However, I was more than prepared for the use of firearms to injure them if required.  I planned the whole operation in a commando fashion.

It is difficult to conceal a policeman’s identity.  They remain policemen even in disguise!  We knew what had happened to constable Thorat.  I therefore handpicked three daredevil civilian youngsters. I was meeting with the informants daily.  We were expecting information about the dacoits at any time and had therefore prepared our selves to move at the shortest notice.

Ultimately the moment came.  On 13th February evening the informant was in a tearing hurry.  The dacoits had come to stay in their huts.  They would be there for at least two days.  I immediately summoned my detective squad men.  A platoon of SRPF Group V was asked to get ready.  The equipment for the operation was already in position and I had already asked for two bullock carts.  Everything was in place, and we decided to raid the hideout the following day.

A Difficult Call - Work or Family?

When I returned home, the ringing phone greeted me.  My younger brother was speaking from Pune.  He informed me that our mother had had a heart attack and was admitted to Dr. Sardesia’s hospital.  One of her heart valve was not functioning properly and an immediate operation was paramount.  My brother told me that our mother was asking for me all the time and he wanted me to leave for Pune immediately.

I was in a dilemma.  Should I leave for Pune at once for my mother’s medical emergency, or should I finish off tomorrow’s operation and then leave for Pune?  It was a difficult call, but finally I decided to go to Pune only after the raid.

Sunday, the 14th February was in fact a holiday.  During breakfast I told my wife that I was going to the Kamotha outpost for some work.  “You are always engrossed in work.  Why cannot you be at home at least on Sunday?” she demanded of me.  “You’ve been lost in your own world for the last few days anyway. What is happening?”

I could not give her a satisfactory reason.  I dressed up like a pilgrim.  I had a Shubnam bag on my shoulder. I put two loaded pistols and sufficient rounds of ammunition.  Seeing this my wife exclaimed, “Today is Sunday and there is no strike, or agitation or any other law & order problem, then why are you setting out with two revolvers and that too in plain clothes?”

“Don’t be late as usual,” she ordered as I stepped out