“Everyone talks of patient care, which usually gets taken care of. But what is most important is the post-care counselling and monetary help for which government compensation is not enough,” said Namita Daithankar, head of the Information and Help Centre at JJ Hospital.
Two years later, victims of the train blasts of July 2006 are still struggling to live their normal lives. “Those who have lost main earning members of their families should be compensated in all respects, including housing and employment on a priority basis,” said lawyer and activist Anand Grover. “The injured should be compensated according to their injuries. This protection should be for at least 10 years so that they don’t have to go around asking for help.”
Grover recommended that a public fund be set up for this purpose. He added that the state government should also consider formulating policies on employment for victims. Ramesh Kumar, principal secretary, relief and rehabilitation, said: “We do not have such a policy yet, except for government servants. But the government will undertake long-term rehabilitation measures in cases where they are necessary.”
Archana Bokade, whose 32-year-old husband Jagan was injured in the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus attack, believes the amount of compensation should be decided according to the injuries sustained. “The amount at present is the same, whether a bullet grazes your thigh or shatters all the bones in your hip,” she said. “This should change.”
Poonam Singh (35), Sachin Singh (6)
The last month has been a mental and physical ordeal for Santosh Singh, who spends his entire day shuttling between Ward 6 and Ward 36 at JJ Hospital. His wife Poonam, a homemaker, cries incessantly, unable to bear the pain of the stomach operation and a clot in the back that has paralysed her limbs. One of the bullets shot at CST pierced through her stomach, coming out the back. A back operation is scheduled soon, after her stomach injury heals. She ha s been given a wheelchair, but she can barely change her position on her own, and suffered from bedsores.
Her son Sachin (6) has been injured badly in the hand and thigh. His legs are plastered, his left hand is stitched to the stomach to aid skin growth and to keep the blood flowing. He has already undergone three surgeries; another one is scheduled.
Poonam, along with her father and two children, was on her way to Azamgadh to attend her uncle’s funeral. Luckily her 18-month-old son Yash and father escaped the bullets.
“Sachin will recover, but I am worried about my wife. I don’t know how far I will be able to help her,” said a tense Singh, a society manager at Odyssey-I building at Hiranandani Complex at Powai. He earns a meager Rs. 6,000 per month and supports a family of six — his wife and four children. So far, he has received Rs. 1 lakh — Rs. 50,000 each for Poonam and Sachin — from the government, and Rs. 10,000 in total from the railways.
But that will not last them long.
Singh spends Rs. 300 on their daily food, fruits and medicines. “The food at the hospital is not good. I get juice and coconut water twice a day for both of them,” Singh said.
— Sayli Udas-Mankikar
Jagan Bokade (32)
Jagan Bokade would have liked to be busy at work, earning to support his wife and three-year-old son, and saving enough to buy his dream home. Instead, the Bhayander resident is lying in Bombay Hospital with multiple fractures in his leg and hip, worrying about how he and his family will cope with the harrowing days ahead.
Bokade was hit by a bullet fired by one of the terrorists who attacked Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) on November 26. “I was walking towards my desk when I heard sounds of gunshots,” said Bokade, the operations manager with a private cargo company. The busy station is his place of work. “They were behind me, about five feet away. I fell down, but had the presence of mind to hide behind a pillar.”
Bokade was lucky to have survived the carnage but his injuries are severe. “He will have to be in bed for at least six months,” said his 26-year-old wife, Archana. “Doctors say it will take at least a year for him to be all right.”
Bokade is aware that the attack has changed his life forever. It is also his biggest fear. “Doctors told me it would be difficult for me to be active and run around like I used to,” he said. “I just don’t know how I’m going to live an entire lifetime like this.”
The family has received Rs. 50,000 from the state and Rs. 5,000 from the railways. The state is taking care of the medical expenses.
But Bokade is the family’s sole breadwinner and, with him being bedridden, the family feels insecure. Bokade made around Rs. 10,000 a month while Archana earned up to Rs. 1,500 a month from embroidery work. “But the person who employed me has now moved home, so I don’t get work anymore,” she said. The couple pays Rs. 3,000 as house rent and Rs. 600 as their son’s monthly kindergarten school fees. Add to this the daily household expenses of nearly Rs. 500, including Archana’s daily trips to the hospital.
“I gave up my earlier job after our son was born,” said Archana, a commerce graduate who went to a Marathi medium school and college. But she knows she will have to take up a job soon. “I have to be strong. I can’t afford to crumble.”
— Sweta Ramanujan-Dixit
Bharat Nevadia (28)
His right shoulder was most important to Bharat Nevadia; his left had been fractured in a previous accident. It helped him earn his living. Nevadia, a hawker who carried a bundle of dress materials on his shoulder through Vasai and Virar, supported his six-member family.
But a bullet pierced through his shoulder and brushed past his ribs, leaving him unable to work. His wife Poonam succumbed to her injuries at JJ Hospital 5 days after the terror attacks, but Nevadia has not yet been told of it.
The couple and with their two children were on their way to Howrah, planning to spend the night at CST waiting for the 5 am Gitanjali Express.
“I used to earn about Rs. 4,500 a month. But now, I don’t know long I can go on,” said Nevadia, who took the bullets to shield his children. Badly injured, he managed to run out of CST with his children and hand them over to policeman, who took him to hospital.
“We have received Rs. 50,000 from the government, but nothing yet from the railways. The Rs. 5 lakh compensation for his wife has come from the state too,” said his father Shyam, who is dependent on Nevadia.
Three-year-old Anjali and one-year-old Viraj are with Nevadia’s elder brother and constantly ask for their mother.
“We are helpless and are waiting for Bharat to recuperate. We buy a lot of expensive meat soup and even chicken every day, which costs us at least Rs. 200, hoping they will help his wounds heal,” says Shyam.
— Sayli Udas-Mankikar