KHARGHAR GETS NEW SPE­CIALTY CLINIC TO TREAT CHIL­DREN Bomb squad of­fi­cer gives lessons in fight­ing ter­ror­ism

RE­CALL Af­ter be­ing part of 26/11 oper­a­tions, Ek­nath Khol­lam pre­pares stu­dents to deal with such cri­sis

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - HT NAVI MUMBAI - Tas­neem Kausar ht­for­nav­i­mum­bai@hin­dus­tan­times.com Faisal Tan­del faisal.tan­del@hin­dus­tan­times.com

In a first, the city got a spe­cial clinic ded­i­cated to chil­dren with disorders of sex de­vel­op­ment.

Mitr hos­pi­tal, Kharghar, es­tab­lished by Dr Arbinder Sin­gal, pae­di­atric urol­o­gist sur­geon and Dr Smita Koppikar, pae­di­atric en­docri­nol­o­gist, was in­au­gu­rated ear­lier this week.

“Ev­ery year we see more than 200 chil­dren, es­pe­cially boys, with gen­i­tal or­gan de­fects,” said Sin­gal.

“By giv­ing th­ese chil­dren the right sci­en­tific treat­ment, we hope to re­duce the so­cial stigma, give them good qual­ity of life and help them achieve their right­ful place in so­ci­ety,” said Sin­gal.

Ac­cord­ing to Sin­gal, ear­lier, par­ents and the so­ci­ety would not ac­cept th­ese chil­dren and they were taken away by eu­nuch so­ci­eties and la­belled as third gen­der.

How­ever, now it is pos­si­ble to give th­ese chil­dren a proper di­ag­no­sis, treat­ment and as­sign them a mean­ing­ful gen­der, said Sin­gal.

It has been seven years since the 26/11 terror at­tacks in Mum­bai that killed 164 peo­ple, but the mem­ory is still fresh in Ek­nath Khol­lam’s mind. The 55-year-old was then an in­spec­tor with the bomb de­tec­tion and dis­posal squad (BDDS) in the Mum­bai po­lice force.

On Novem­ber 26, 2008, Khol­lam was at his house in the By­culla po­lice quar­ters when his col­league’s wife rushed to tell him to switch on the tele­vi­sion. “The wife of my col­league and neigh­bour Vi­jay Kadam, a po­lice in­spec­tor with the Anti-ter­ror­ism squad, told me about the terror at­tack. She said Kadam sir had asked me to get ready for work,” said Khol­lam, who was jolted out of his re­laxed state.

When Khol­lam and Kadam left the Mum­bai ATS of­fice in Kadam’s pri­vate car, they saw many oth­ers head­ing to Ch­ha­tra­p­ati Shivaji Ter­mi­nus in any po­lice van or car they could get their hands on. “Till late that night, no one was aware about the at­tack or what was go­ing on or who the at­tack­ers were and what they were up to,” said Khol­lam.

Khol­lam reached the Taj ho­tel, where a snif­fer dog from the bomb squad had de­tected one of the bombs thrown in front of the ho­tel.

“My se­nior SM An­thony took a risk and de­fused the wire. He then cov­ered it in a blan­ket and handed it to me for proper defuse. Af­ter we took it to the Gir­guam Chow­patty at 1.30am, it took us around 40 min­utes to dif­fuse the bomb prop­erly. It was an im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vice (IED). Fear­ing it was a booby trap (cut­ting the wrong wire could re­sult in explosion), we took it to the sea­side. We found 6 kgs RDX in it, 10 ball bear­ings and RDX wires,” said Khol­lam, who said the team was work­ing with only one torch­light.

A snif­fer dog of the BDDS had de­tected a bomb in front of Tri­dent Ho­tel. The staffers had cov­ered it in a blan­ket but when the bomb was be­ing shifted, it ex­ploded. “Some po­lice­men were in­jured. When we reached the spot, we con­ducted a post-blast in­ves­ti­ga­tion. A pit had been formed owing to the blast,” said Khol­lam.

Khol­lam even re­mem­bers the bomb they had dif­fused at the CST. “The empty sta­tion had bags strewn all across as com­muters had run for their lives. Po­lice of­fi­cers were col­lect­ing the bags. Af­ter check­ing around 180 bags, a bomb was found that was de­fused within the premises with sup­port from su­pe­ri­ors. It was an over­whelm­ing ex­pe­ri­ence,” said Khol­lam.

Khol­lam is now a se­nior po­lice in­spec­tor with Vishnu Na­gar traf­fic unit in Dom­bivli and has ap­plied to join the Thane BDDS. Since the at­tacks, Khol­lam has taken in­ter­est in spread­ing aware­ness about bombs and ter­ror­ism.

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