For the last five years, the Arora family has tried its best to ignore cameras on the Samjhauta Express blast anniversaries. The family does not like talking to journalists as it disturbs them all the more.
“What is the point repeating the same thing again and again. That does not solve any purpose. We have gone though hell and it just adds to our pain,” said Manish Arora of Old Mahavir Nagar in New Delhi. Arora’s brother Lalit, who worked with the Indian Railways as a ticket collector, was killed in the blast near Panipat on February 18, 2007, when the train was on its way to Lahore from Delhi.
Five years after the attack, the family is struggling to get back to normal. “A lot has changed since then. Though a job was offered to my sister in law by the railways, life has not come back to normal. My twin nephews, who are nine now, know very little about their father,” says Arora.
The family was lucky to have got compensation. There are many who still have not got any money. “Eleven families still have not received any compensation,” said Ashok Randhawa, president, South Asian Forum for People Against Terror.
Mohammad Javed is one of them. The family of Javed’s brother Shabir Ahmad, who lived in Pakistan, was killed in the blast. “My brother, his wife and four children were killed in the blast. We have not got any compensation. According to the railway tribunal rules, compensation cannot be given to the brother of a victim. My mother died when the trial was going on. I am the only one left in the family and fighting for compensation in court,” said Javed.
For the last four years, Rana Shaukat Ali, who lost his five kids in the blast, has visited India on the anniversary of the blast. This year, too, he wanted to attend a prayer meet in Panipat but he could not get a visa.
“The Indian embassy did not give me the visa. The visa rules have been made stricter for Pakistanis,” Ali told HT over the phone from Pakistan.