MUMBAI: Memories of the tragedy at Nariman House still haunt Isaac Baagwan, the first police officer to reach the spot on 26/11. He regrets his men did not have advanced weapons which would have made their task easier.
“All I had was a service pistol. The MRA Marg striking force comprising six policemen arrived with only SLR weapons in half an hour. The terrorists had AK-57s,” he said.
As firing continued, Baagwan rushed to Colaba court building where a Bohri couple had been killed by shots from Nariman House. There was panic among residents. Being a local, Baagwan was at an advantage and easily got the residents to calm down. He cordoned off the road to Nariman House and helped 200 residents to relocate to safer places.
“I was surprised to see the cook and maid Sandra, leaving Nariman House next day with baby Moshe. I sent them to Colaba police station,” said Baagwan. Deputy commissioner of police, Vishwas Nangre Patil said, “Baagwan independently took charge of the situation — right from coordinating with senior officials to evacuating the area.”
His acts earned him his third police gallantry medal. His first medal came when he gunned down hardcore criminal Mania Surve in 1981. He again shot to fame when he shot at and injured David Pardesi who had come to kill Amirzada inside the sessions court premises in 1983.
Baagwan regrets he missed one of the terrorists who ran into Hotel Taj after the Leopold firing. “I was at dinner when somebody informed me that there was firing at Leopold. When I rushed there, I was told the terrorists had run towards Diplomat Hotel. I was on my way when I saw two terrorists entering the Taj. I wanted to fire but the distance was too much for my pistol,” he said.
He was asked to take charge at Nariman House by police commissioner Hassan Gafoor. He was excited when they nabbed a `suspected terrorist’, but it turned out to be a Jew who had hidden himself when the terrorists entered.