Nine years after seven blasts shook Mumbai’s lifeline, killing 189 people and injuring 829, many victims have had to move on with their lives without the support they were promised by the government.
Among them is Alwyn D’Cunha, a 45-year-old manager with an automobile firm in Dadar, who suffered severe injuries to both hands in the train blasts on July 11, 2006. D’Cunha, like many others, is still waiting for the state government to reimburse his medical bill, which ran into lakhs. “When I was shifted to Lilavati Hospital, the government took care of my medical bills for a month. I was discharged after some preliminary treatment but the doctors said my treatment would continue for at least a year,” said D’Cunha.
But when he was re-admitted to hospital for the major part of his treatment, D’Cunha said, the government told him he was on his own. “They told me that their responsibility ended the first time I was discharged, even though doctors said further treatment was required. My bill eventually ran up to Rs 5 lakh,” he said.
D’Cunha filed a case against the authorities to get his medical bills reimbursed. The court ruled in his favour and ordered the state to reimburse him. “In court, they asked me why I went to a hospital like Lilavati and not to a municipal hospital. This is the kind of attitude they have towards the victims,” he said.
And the ruling, the government is yet to pay D’Cunha. “Every time I go to collect my refund, the authorities tell me they do not have the funds to pay me back. The railways offered me a job as a peon, which was humiliating,” he added.
Another victim, Mahendra Pitale, who lost his left hand, said he has been trying to get a job with the railways since 2009. “I applied for a job in 2009, but to date they keep asking me for various documents. I have lost all hope and have started looking for a job on my own. I specialise in design and for that I need both hands, but since the blasts it has been very difficult for me to work normally.”
Pitale added, "The government paid my initial bills, but when it came to a prosthetic hand, which costs around Rs 7 lakh, they refused to help. It’s now been nine years since I got the prosthetic hand and it looks like I will have to pay for the replacement too.”