Decade after 26/11: Stories of families that affect every Mumbaikars
Sunanda Shinde was 36 when her husband, a ward boy at a south Mumbai hospital was killed by terrorists, who also slew 165 others during the 26/11 Mumbai attack. Ten years on, she feels the government discriminated while deciding on compensation for the 26/11 martyrs. Sunanda's husband Bhagan Shinde worked at the Gokuldas Tejpal Hospital.
That fateful night, on hearing gunshots, he had gone to a nearby phone booth to call his wife and kids when he was shot from behind at the hospital gate.
"The government should not have discriminated while giving compensation to the families of martyrs," says Sunanda, who now works as an 'ayah' (maid) in the same hospital. "Kin of martyrs from police got petrol pumps besides the compensation amount, a house and jobs.
But the government did not allot petrol pumps to martyrs who were from government hospitals," she said. Recalling the events of that tragic night, she said Bhagan had finished his work and was about to leave the hospital.
"I was in train, returning to the staff quarters near the hospital from my maternal parents' residence at Chinchpokli in central Mumbai along with my elder daughter," she said. "My husband had called me and said that he is reaching home in a few minutes.
As he reached the gate, he heard heavy firing and saw terrorists heading towards the gate. He tried to close the gate, but before he could do so, collapsed after being shot by terrorists," she said.
Narrating her tale of woe during the last 10 years without the support of her husband, Sunanda said she was unable to take care of her children, a boy and a girl, as there was no money left. "We got a big house from the government, but a major chunk of my salary goes to pay the building maintenance charge and electricity bills, she said.
"In an expensive city like Mumbai, how can a family survive with just 10,000 per month," she said. Pravin Narkar, whose father Bhanu Narkar was killed when terrorists stormed the Cama and Albless Hospital in south Mumbai that night, says no amount of government help can help bring back his father, a security guard at the hospital.
Pravin, 30, appointed as a guard in his father's place after the attack, said his father was on duty on that fateful night. "We all family members were calling him on his mobile phone after the news of the terror attack at Cama hospital was flashed on TV screens but his phone was not reachable," he said.
"In the wee hours of November 27, we got a call from the hospital administration about his death in the attack. Our world crumbled," he said. Pravin said his mother suffered from depression after the tragedy but has recovered since. "We received a certificate from the then President Pratibha Patil, which mentions his martyrdom.
Villagers have installed my father's statue there," said Pravin, whose family hails from Ratnagiti district in coastal Konkan.
For 41-year-old Karuna Waghela, whose husband Thakur Waghela was killed by terrorists, who first asked for water to drink and then sprayed him with bullets, it has been a bleak 10 years after the tragedy.
Karuna, who works as a sweeper at the GT Hospital where her husband was a ward boy, said she could not devote time for her three children when they needed her the most as she was busy shouldering her new responsibility as the breadwinner for the family.
"My life has changed in the last ten years and not a single day goes without remembering my husband," Karuna, who stays at Pratikshanagar in central Mumbai's Sion area, told PTI. "When I got the job at the hospital as part of the compensation, I wasn't aware of the local train timings. Unable to focus on the job, I went in depression sometimes," she said. Her youngest child, a boy, was at home when terrorists came knocking and asked for water to drink, she said.
Thakur Waghela was home for dinner and gave water to the terrorists but was shot at point-blank range while he turned to come inside the house, she said. "My son, who was just four and a half years old when his father was shot, was in shock and hasn't been able to erase the ghastly memory," she said.
The boy was also a witness in the 26/11 terror attack case, in which Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist caught alive, was sentenced to death. Sabira Khan, 50, was injured in the bomb blast at Wadi Bunder on November 26, 2008. Her leg was damaged and she became hearing impaired after the blast. "I have written around 200 letters to authorities, including the Prime Minister, for financial help but have not received much assistance," she said.
(With inputs from agencies.)