In the midst of death and terror, the residents of Mehrauli have found themselves a martyr — nine-year-old Santosh Kumar.
Santosh died in the Mehrauli blast after he tried to return the plastic packet dropped by two motorcycle-borne men, which exploded and killed him.
As the mortal remains of Santosh were cremated by his elder brother Bambam Kumar on Sunday, a crowd of neighbours, local shop owners, both Hindus and Muslims, gathered around the family to pay their last respects.
The Serai market reverberated with the slogans of ‘Shahid Santosh amar rahe’ — shouted by the more than a 100-strong gathering at the small cremation ground nearby. After the funeral pyre was lit, the quiet of the desolate market was pierced by spirited slogans of ‘Shahid santosh ka yeh balidan, yaad rakhega Hindustan’.
“Santosh is our messiah who took the whole impact of the blast on his little body. If he hadn’t picked up that packet, many more people would have died,” said Rajesh Thakkar, near whose shop the blast had taken place.
While Bambam Kumar and Santosh’s father Bachhu Mahto looked distraught, the boy’s sister Pooja was inconsolable. Santosh’s mother, who is a heart patient, fainted and was taken back to their house in Islam Nagar.
Mahto is a rickshaw puller. “The family didn’t have enough money to perform the boy’s last rites. Local residents and traders collected money to help them,” said Om Dutt Sharma, a businessman.