Sixty-five-year-old Lakshmi Shinde proudly lights a lamp in front of her son's photo every day. Lakshmi derives some satisfaction amidst her grief in the knowledge that her forty-six-year-old son, Shashank, a senior inspector with the Railway Police at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), did his duty bravely when he was thrust into the nightmare that marks one of Mumbai's darkest episodes.
Uttam, his younger brother, says Shashank came out of the police station near the station's waiting hall as soon as he heard the first sound of firing at CST. He was armed with just a service revolver, which was simply no match for the AK-47s brandished by the terrorists.
But he worked quickly to evacuate people from the hall. Home Guard Mukesh Jadhav was also working alongside.
Says Uttam, “Shashank surely saved some lives. And while he was trying to do so, the terrorists shot him in his back. He took four bullets. He died within minutes. Shashank was one of the first officers to fall to the terrorists.”
Manasi, Shashank's 43-year-old wife, has gathered the courage to face the world alone. And get on with life.
“I resumed work from Monday, December 22. I have to move on for my daughters and everyone in the family,” explains Manasi in subdued tones. She is an Assistant Administration Officer with the Life Insurance Corporation.
Shashank's aged parents endorse her decision, as do other family members. “It is better that she
goes back to work instead of being home with her sad thoughts,”
says Chandrasen (76), Shashank's father.
Says Chandrasen, “Shashank carried on my legacy — I have myself been in police service all my life and retired as a jamadar from the Byculla Police Station in 1999.”
Shashank's daughters, Aditi and Nivedita, have resumed their studies too. But are still beset by memories. Says Aditi, “Our father is a martyr and we are very proud of him. But we can't help missing him.”