Life after 26/11: Terror ruled past, hope peace rules future
Dailybhaskar.com | Nov 26, 2012, 00:31AM IST
Mumbai: With the passage of time, life has moved on. But, it was not an easy transition.
These are profiles of people who were directly affected by the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, their lives changed since that night, some received compensation while others did not, but life has been changed, irrevocably.
Twenty-five-year-old Vishweshwar Pacharane, a former home guard deployed at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) injured in 26/11 attacks sits idle at his house in Chembur in anticipation of a secured job.
An unemployed Pacharane has alleged that he was promised a job. He has written several letters to the Maharashtra government, but to no avail. "I don't have any job. I am waiting for the government to provide me a secured job so that I can help my family," said Pacharane.
Pacharne was among the home guard men posted at CST station when terrorists started to hurl hand-grenades and opened indiscriminate firing.
But Pacharne, who played a key role in shifting senior citizens and children to safer locations when the attacks started, is worried about his future. Especially as, his father who works with Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation would retire in three years. "Once my father retires, the only source of income in family would be from my elder brother who drives an auto-rickshaw. Nobody from my family would have a secure job," said Pacharane.
Pacharane, who had sustained injuries after a bullet brushed past his left leg, alleged that his tenure as a home guard has not been renewed. "My tenure expired in the month of October this year after which I applied for renewal. However, it was rejected without any reason," he said.
Pacharane was a part of the delegation of victims of various terror attacks in Mumbai, who met chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Thursday, and placed a demand that the state government should provide them long-term medical treatment, jobs and also to expedite trials in the terror cases.
Pacharane now lives in the hope that the state government would help him with a job. "I have received monetary compensation, but the need of the hour is a job. I could only expect that the state government announces a job," said Pacharane.
For Sabira Khan, life came to a standstill since the time she was injured in a bomb blast at Wadi bunder near Dockyard. Formerly, a teacher and only earning member in her family, Sabira injured her legs and was operated four times since 2008. She has also lost her hearing sense partially.
"I still cannot walk more than 4 steps. If I ever go out of home, then it is only to the hospital. I spent more than 7 lakhs for my operations but not even a rupee was given by the government."
Khan's son who has been making rounds to various government offices for compensation, says, "nobody paid heed to the problem". Last week, Khan and her son visited Chief Minister along with other victims of terrorist attacks to demand compensation for the loss. However, no assurance has been given yet.
"Wherever we went to talk about 26/11 victim compensation, they ignored us and said 26/11 has gone long back. Everyone pats on our back for being brave, but none of them wish to look into the matter," she added. Khan has written letter to Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Prime Minister, Opposition leaders, Sonia Gandhi, other cabinet ministers and local corporators, but all in vain.
To meet her medical expenses, Sabira sold her house and a shop in Mumbai. Now, her son, Hamid Khan manages daily wage work and earns a meager amount, but most of it is spent on medication.
"The government spent 50 crore rupees on Kasab's security, if they had spent even 50 lakh on victims, it would have been a relief for many families," said Hamid Khan. Sabira Khan has to undergo a major spine surgery soon, but it is becoming unaffordable for the family. "Doctor has given 2 months' time to do the surgery, if ignored her life may not be saved. We are worried and helpless now," said her worried son.
Shabeer Salaam, a Solapur resident came to Mumbai CST to escort his uncle's family for Hajj yatra, but even before he could say a good bye to them, he lost two members of his family and injured himself that has paralysed him since the terror attack. Shabeer was promised a job by the government but did not receive any call till now.
"I am the only earning member in the family. We received compensation of 1 lakh but it was not enough for my treatment," said the vegetable vendor in Solapur. "I cannot afford to do business and still waiting for a job to be given by the government."
Shabeer wished that his daughter who passed Bed with first class gets a job in a government school, as he is not in a position to work anymore. "Government officials are demanding bribe of Rs. 6-7 lakh. Where do I go for such a huge amount? They can at least give a job to my daughter who is well qualified and efficient."
Shabeer is currently earning Rs.150 a day by selling vegetables whenever he feels physically better to do business. "Many times I don't do business, because my health does not support me," he added.
"They paid me 50,000 rupees and told to forget the rest. The amount was not enough to even heal my wounds. How do I ignore the pain that I go through even 4 years after the attack?" asks Mumtaz Quraishi who lost his job and struggling to handle family expenses since then.
One of the bullets fired by terrorists at CST station hit Quraishi's back that also hurt his legs. Soon after the attack, Quraishi lost his job in a steel plant in Khopoli. "Work in a steel plant requires good stamina. I became so weak that I had to do resign from the job," he said.
Every month, Quraishi spends more than Rs.1000 for his medicines. He also has to visit hospital frequently. "The government promised to give me a job in railways but it is forgotten now. It was tragic for me to resign from steel plant Company that I got after putting in lot efforts." He says joblessness has taken a toll on his health mentally and physically. "If the government had employed me, life would have been so much better. Rs. 50,000 will not get back my job; the government doesn't seem to understand this," he added.
After waiting 2 years for a call from government, Quraishi now started working in a nearby hotel which pays him lesser than what he earned previously. He is survived by his wife and 2 children. "I still have hopes that they will give me work in the Railways. I wish to give bright future to my children."
Karim Pasha's father Pir Pasha and uncle Chand Pasha worked as waiters in Leopold Café. On 26/11, terrorists gunned down his father, and his uncle was severely injured after which he remained on bed rest for several months.
However, due to the tragedy, Chand Pasha later became ill and could not continue his job in Leopold. He succumbed a year later.
Currently, Karim Pasha, 17 year old son of Pir Pasha, his mother and 4 young siblings are surviving on a monthly salary of Rs. 4000 given by Leopold hotel. "My siblings are younger than me, so nobody is earning in the family. We are somehow managing our expenses in Rs. 4000. Our condition was very stable when my father was alive. Now, life has changed completely."
Though Pir Pasha's family received compensation of Rs. 5 lakh, Chand Pasha and his family was not given money for his treatment. His uncle's sons are still jobless and awaiting for a government job since then.
"We should have been given two government jobs, but not even one has been granted yet. I lost hopes from the government. Now, there are dreams to accomplish and I am striving hard to fulfill them in my own way," said Karim Pasha.
She has moved on with her life. But it was not an easy transition from being a simple housewife to breadwinner for the entire family. Her life had turned upside down when she learnt about her husband's death in 26/11 attacks. Momina's initial reactions were laced with morbid fear that "Now, how would I support the family, without my husband?"
In four years time, the 33-year-old wife of driver Umar Shaikh is diligently fulfilling the role of both "father" and "mother" for her children. Now, Momina sells garlands of jasmine flower for a shop at Shivaji Nagar in Mumbai. Her effort helps her earn around Rs 70 a day. Shaikh was killed after a bomb planted in his taxi by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists exploded. "Life has not been easy. With my meagre earning and without any grown up man in the home, everyday is a test for my family," said Momina, putting up a brave face.
In spite of all odds, Momina has not given up hope. Like a warrior, she fights every battle of life and definitely she has her winning moments too. Recently, Momina has bought a house with the compensation of Rs 5 lakh which she has received from the state government. Moreover, Aman Council of India, an NGO, has ensured that her son Arbaaz gets free education.
Along with Momina's husband, a total of 166 people were killed in Mumbai strikes. The magnitude of human loss was huge in the deadliest terror attacks India has ever witnessed. The horror of killing and blood bath went on for three days. The terror attack was executed by 10 Pakistani home-grown terrorists, who entered India's financial hub and mercilessly killed innocent people.
(With inputs from HT, One India News)