Rana Shaukat, the Samjhauta Train blast victim who helped police make a sketch of the suspects, reached the civil hospital at Panipat late on Thursday night to identify the bodies of five of his children killed in the blast.
Shaukat came along with his wife Rukhsana Akhtar and youngest daughter Aksa, both of whom managed to escape the inferno. They could, however, identify just two of their children – eldest daughter Ayesha (15) and son Rehman (5).
While Shaukat still shudders to think how his five children burnt in front of him, the sight of the bodies of his children made him revisit the horror. The couple could not bear the sight and stench of the bodies for long and had to come out. "I have identified two of my children but smell of the chemicals was too strong and I had to come out of the room," Shaukat said.
With the bodies in a very bad state and time running out, senior officials said they would have to go for mass burial of unidentified soon. "I cannot leave my children here, they should go back with me so that we can bury them with full rites," a distraught Shaukat said.
Shaukat said that he already has already given an account of the night of the blast to police but is willing to stay in India if that helps the investigation. "If my statement helps in nabbing the culprits, I do not mind staying here for some time," he said.
On Friday morning, Shaukat and his wife were still trying to find their dead children from row of burnt unidentified bodies.
Shaukat also helped the police prepare the sketch of a man, who he said got off the train just before the blasts. "The man had thin lips and a stubble," he said. He was also taken back to the burnt bogeys to identify where the man was sitting.
"When I got into the train and kept my luggage, there was one man sitting near our berth. A Sikh railway security personal entered the bogey and asked the man where he was going and he said replied Amritsar," Shaukat said. He said the policeman asked him to get down from train as soon as it slows down. "He got down 25 minutes later and was smiling as he got down," he said.
"Just 15 minutes later, there was a huge sound and the bogey plunged into darkness. I could smell something burning and ran towards the door to open it, a minute later I would have died with others," he said.
"My wife was sleeping in the berth below me but I did not think of waking her up. She got up sometime later and ran with our youngest daughter Aksa towards the door," he said.
"I entered the train again calling for Ayesha. The coach was filled with fire by then and I had to jump out. I started shouting that my children were burning but no one from the other side even threw a blanket to save them," he said.
Shaukat said he provided the police with details that helped them make the sketch. "There were two men sitting earlier but only one got down. I have no idea where the second man went or if they were together," he said. "But the man with the stubble was the terrorist," he said.
Shaukat reached Delhi on January 24 to visit his cousin whose wife was ill. "The annual exams of my children were round the corner but I still brought them. Ayesha did not want to come at all but I said 10-15 days would not affect her studies much," he said. "Our death kept us waiting in Delhi," he said.
Shaukat and Rukhsana have lost five of their children Ayesha (15), Bilal (12), Amir (10), Asma (8) and Rehman (5). Only one year old Aksa was saved.
Shaukat said security for the train was lax at Old Delhi railway station. "If the security was strict, this incident would not have happened," he said.