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13 years after blasts, the anger returns

13 years after blasts, the anger returns

Author: Archana Sharma
Publication: The Times of India
Date: August 16, 2006

"I am not angry with the people who want to finish Mumbai. I am angry with the people who are supposed to save Mumbai," says Vinayak Devrukhakar, who lost his sister and a brother in the 1993 blasts. The lives of the Devrukhakars changed after March 12, 1993 yet Vinayak is not looking forward to the final verdict in September. "I know what will happen. Out of the 123 accused, 100 will be acquitted and 23 will be convicted. I am not even sure if they are the real culprits," says this unemployed 27-year-old.

Vasant (11) and Shashikala (19) were opposite the passport office waiting at bus stop where a car bomb exploded. Vasant had come first in a scholarship exam for Sanskrit and he and his sister had left home to collect the award. Instead, they had to pay with their lives.

A kilometre away at Jupiter Mills, Chandrakant Devrukhakar heard a blast that stunned him. He was on the top floor of the mill. He rushed out and saw smoke billowing out from many points. He left for home and on his way back saw limbs, scalps, and even a head strewn in his lane. He soon realised that two of his children were missing.

"The main road was closed. Someone told me, my children were last seen at the bus stop. Since we couldn't go there we went to the school to confirm if my children had reached there," says 74-year-old Devrukhakar, who is hard of hearing now. When the school replied in the negative, the mill worker ran to KEM Hospital where another trauma awaited him.

He could not recognise any of the bodies as his children. A longtime neighbour who worked at the hospital recognised Shashikala. Devrukhakar could not believe that the body without scalp and long hair was his daughter's. Her teeth and upper lip were gone.

Meanwhile, another man staked claim to the body. The authorities asked Devrukhakar for identifying marks. Recalling none, the sobbing old man was returning home empty handed when he suddenly realised that Shashikala had had four stitches after she had stepped on a sickle board. He rushed back and claimed the body as her feet still had the scar of the gash.

An hour later, Vasant was found. "Half of his body, specially the face, was gone," recalls Devrukhakar.

His son continues with the saga. Shashikala was like an anchor of the house. She had finished her Std XII and was studying to become a nurse. "She used to be in charge of her two younger brothers, from teaching us to disciplining us. I was among the first five rankers till Std VI, but after she was gone, I scraped through in exams. I failed in Std VIII and just about managed to clear my tenth."

To expect any support from his father would have been immature. His father lost his mental balance for three years. "He became reserved and would keep repeating' not one but two from my family alone... Why .. ?'" Vinayak recounts.

Vinayak used to seethe with anger. For the first two years he wanted to kill the terrorists. But now, he is tired. "It's been 13 years. Isn't that shameful? Look at the action... so deadly… and look at the reaction, so slow and lukewarm."

He blames it on the government and the lack of political will to nab the terrorists. "In the US one attack led to a country being bombed and another invaded. But what's happened here? We have had two serial blasts since then. And a number of deadly one-off attacks."

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