Until November 26, 2008, Mohan Gupta did not think voting was important.
But on Thursday, when the 48-year-old walked into a South Mumbai polling booth, it was evident that his daughter, Sonali's death in the 26/11 attacks at the Trident had acted as a catalyst in getting the businessman to vote for the first time.
“All these years I never felt the need to vote, but today I want to vote to make sure that no father ever goes through such a horrifying experience,” said Gupta who believes that the siege was a wake up call to citizens like him who never thought that terror could come home.
Dr Tilottama Mangeshikar (49) and her husband Prashant (53) who survived the siege at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel voted for a stronger government. “The attacks have in a way helped mobilise a lot of youth,” said Mangeshikar after stepping out of the polling centre.
She added that the need of the hour is to have a representative who is also accountable.
“The attacks were an eye-opener but it would be foolish to vote only keeping the attacks in mind. There are other serious issues that need to be addressed,” she said.
Sanjay Kathar (22) who was injured at the Nariman House recalled that night of 26/11 as “something that he had never anticipated.”
“The attacks were clear signs of political and security lapses in the city,” he said but added that he hoped the new government would do something for unemployed like himself.
Around Nariman House, where five people were killed in the attacks, there was a sense of casual yet unspoken anguish. Danmantiben Gohil, a widow who lost her teenaged son Harish in the terror strike, lives in a building next to the Nariman House.
“I have lost my only son, I cannot ask for anything but my vote is for the betterment of the city so that we don’t loose more innocent lives in future,” she said.
Fahang Jehani the owner of Leopold the café, one of the first targets, could not vote because his name was not on the voter’s list. “But given a chance I would have definitely voted. After all we saw the 26/11 attacks from close quarters,” he said.