Saleena Das (68) — who lost her son, daughter-in-law and grandson in the 2005 Delhi serial bomb blasts — had come to Patiala House court on Thursday with hope.
She barely managed to make her way up a flight of stairs to get to the courtroom, and had to be helped up by two of her acquaintances, occasionally pausing for breath, as her granddaughter held her walking stick. For 12 years, Das had waited for this day and she wasn’t going to let her bad health prevent her from seeing the accused punished.
The judgment, however, left her shocked.
“It is like a slap on our faces,” was all she could say initially.
On Thursday, the mastermind of the 2005 Delhi serial blasts, Tariq Ahmad Dar, was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He has already served 12 years. Two other accused, Mohammed Rafiq Shah and Mohammed Hussain Fazili, were acquitted.
Das said she will appeal the verdict in a higher court.
“I never got my son’s body. My daughter-in-law and grandson were cut in two pieces. All three died in the blast. I won’t let the guilty go unpunished,” Das said.
She recalls that it was the day of Dhanteras (October 29) when her son Michael John (42), daughter-in-law Babli (35) and grandson Alveen (18) decided to go out for shopping. Diwali was two days away and the family was planning to buy new clothes and shoes and some silverware.
The family left their home in Dilshad Garden around 3pm and went to Sarojini Nagar Market. When the first blast took place in Paharganj, Das was watching television. She immediately made a phone call and asked her son to come back home.
“Michael assured me that he will be back soon. That was the last time I spoke to him. Around 7.30pm, I got a call from Safdarjung hospital informing me that my daughter-in-law is injured. That day, I lost three members of my family,” Das said.
Das’ granddaughter, Manisha, was eight years old at the time of the blast. Today, she 20 and is pursuing hotel management from a college in Ghaziabad. “No words can describe the amount of pain we went through. For everyday in the last 12 years, we have been waiting for justice to be delivered. But after today’s decision, I have lost faith in the system,” Manisha said.