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As a poignant gesture, a group of naturalists have named a new spider species discovered in Kalyan, Thane, in memory of the 26/11 Martyr, Tukaram G Omble. He helped nab Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab alive during the 26/11 terror strikes in Mumbai.
The new ‘jumping spider’ male sex-species, found last year in an urban locality of Kalyan town, has been christened as “Icius Tukarami”, said Ahmedabad-based photographer and wildlife enthusiast Dhruv Prajapati.
Simultaneously,a different group comprising of Rajesh Sanap, Somnath Kumbhar and John Caleb discovered another unknown spider species distributed in Aarey Colony, Mumbai and also 50 kms away in Kalyan, having named it as “Phintella Cholkei”, in 2017 and 2019, respectively.
“This is in memory of Kumbhar’s friend, Kamlesh Cholke who used to collect and provide us with different species of spiders. It has a unique body pattern and genital organs not seen in other spiders,” said Sanap.
The latest finds have been described and published in a research paper published in an internationally reputed journal: “Arthropoda Selecta”, jointly by Prajapati and Ravi Dutt Kamboj (both of Gujarat Ecological Education & Research Foundation), Sanap and Caleb (of Indian Institute of Ecology & Environment) and Kumbhar who meticulously collected both the species from the wild.
On the move to name the species after the Mumbai 26/11 hero, Prajapati said that he was deeply impressed by the extraordinary valour and bravery in the line of duty displayed by Omble when south Mumbai was under a 60-hour siege during November 26th-28th, 2008.
As the story unfolds; Omble, a former Indian Army soldier who retired and joined as an Assistant Sub- Inspector of Police attached to the D.B Marg Police Station in 1991, hailed from Satara was manning a check-post at Girgaum Chowpatty at the height of the terror strikes in the early hours of November 27th.
Soon afterwards, the heavily armed Kasab and his associate Abu Ismail were seen speeding down the deserted Marine Drive in a stolen Skoda, but it was stopped at the traffic post near Chowpatty.
In the indiscriminate firing by the two blood-thirsty terrorists and retaliation from the policemen on duty, Ismail was shot dead.
However, Kasab was caught alive by Omble who managed to overpower him despite being pumped with over 40 bullets fired from an AK-47, which later claimed his life.
As his gallantry became a legend, Omble was declared a ‘Martyr’ and conferred with the country’s highest peace-time honour, the ‘Ashok Chakra’ in 2009.
“It is to keep his memories and fearlessness alive in public minds, I decided to dedicate this new species of spider in Omble’s name,” Prajapati said.
On the significance of the latest discoveries, Sanap said that Spiders are microhabitat specialists sensitive to sudden changes which make them ideal indicators of the ecosystem function.
“They are an integral component of the food web as they help control insect populations. However, even minor environmental changes can either hit or wipe out their population, hence they must be conserved,” Sanap explained.
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