Sadanand Vasant Date: 26/11 hero becomes new NIA chief

Sadanand Vasant Date: 26/11 hero becomes new NIA chief

New Delhi | He fought Ajmal Kasab and his LeT colleague Abu Ismail, received splinter injuries and held them off till he fell unconscious. On Wednesday, 16 years later, Sadanand Vasant Date was appointed head of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the agency that came up in the aftermath of the three-day terror siege of Mumbai.

Date, a 1990 IPS officer of the Maharashtra cadre, was honoured with the President's Police medal for gallantry for his role in what has come to be known as the 26/11 attack. Only fitting perhaps that he takes over as director general of the agency specifically tasked with probing terror cases.

On that fateful night of November 26, 2008, Date, who was then additional commissioner of police, central region, received a call about terrorists firing indiscriminately near the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. A short while earlier, 10 terrorists had sneaked in in a boat and fanned out across Mumbai.

By the time, Date and his team reached CST, Kasab and Ismail, both members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, had left and occupied the roof of the Cama hospital nearby. The team followed them there.

The police team was operating blind. They knew that two people were up there but did not have any information about the arms and ammunition in the possession of the terrorists. Nonetheless, the Date-led team decided to take on the two.

In retaliation to the gunshots, the terrorists lobbed hand grenades at the approaching police team and Date was hit by splinters in his hands and legs.

Undeterred by the injury, Date continued to fire at the two terrorists besides informing other senior officers about their location.

After holding them for an hour, Date fell unconscious after losing a lot of blood.

The team’s swift response and decisive actions were instrumental in managing the crisis at the hospital for the patients, including scores of women and children.

The night saw 18 Mumbai Police personnel laying down their lives. Among those killed were senior IPS officers Hemant Karkare and Ashok Kamte besides encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar and assistant sub-inspector Tuka Ram Omble, who was instrumental in arresting Kasab, the Pakistani LeT operative caught alive and hanged in November 2012. Ismail was killed by Omble.

Date, 57, who was Maharashtra ATS chief till Wednesday, also served as DIG in the Central Bureau of Investigation, IG (Ops) in the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), and Commissioner of Police for Mira-Bhayandar and Vasai-Virar city near Mumbai.

He has an MCom as well as a doctorate in economic offences from Pune university.

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