It was the end of a regular working day for Jagan Bokare, who was at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus on the night of November 26, 2008. Employed with a logistics company, Bokare’s duties included fetching cargo from the Indrayani Express scheduled to arrive at 9.55pm.
As he made his way towards platform 13, he heard a loud bang. “It sounded like firecrackers had gone off.” It took Bokare some time to realise the noise was from a stream of bullets flying out of an AK-47. In the chaos, he did not realise a bullet had hit him.
“When I looked back, I saw a gunman standing and randomly shooting. Seconds later, I felt this acute pain below my waist. I darted away from the gunman, but fell after a couple of steps,” he recalls. A boy who helps Bokare unload the cargo was also shot; the two bullets that pierced him killed him instantly.
Bokare mustered strength to hide himself. As the gunman headed towards the local train platforms, Bokare reached for his cellphone to call his superior, who arranged for help. He was taken to the nearby GT Hospital.
“I never lost consciousness. I even made a call to my wife. As soon as she switched on the TV and realised the gravity of the incident, she fainted,” Bokare said.
The bullet was removed the same night, but Bokare had to undergo treatment for 10 months. It took him another year to recover and get back to work. His employers gave him a desk job. “My bones were fractured. My lower body hurts if I walk for more than half-an-hour. I sense pain while asleep,” said Bokare.
The incident weakened him physically and destroyed him financially. A year before 26/11, Bokare started working as a ticketing agent to supplement his salary. He lost that clientèle in the two years he was bed-ridden. Most of the financial help he got was spent on treatment. “I had so many plans. I wanted to buy a home for my family. All of it has vanished,” said the Bhayandar resident.
Bokare, now 39, said hanging Ajmal Kasab is not a consolation. “Why did the government keep him alive for so long? Why did they spend crores on a terrorist?”