‘Holi reminds me of the horrifying terror attack that changed my life’

  • Tarsem Singh Deogan, Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
  • Updated: Mar 24, 2016 00:31 IST
Vimla Devi showing picture of her daughter Rajni , who was killed in the attack. (JS Grewal/ HT )

It has been over two decades that their near and dear ones were killed in a terrorist attack that took place on the festive occasion of Holi. Even 24 years after the tragedy struck their homes, the families of Field Gunj, one of the busiest markets of the city, have not celebrated the festival and the memories of the attack continue to haunt them.

Their kin were killed in a terrorist attack on March 18, 1992 on the day of colors. The aggrieved families said the day brings happiness for others, but for them it is a day of painful memories.

Terrorist attack derailed life

Jeet Rani of Field Gunj had lost her husband Mohinder Pal and father-in-law Sri Ramji Das, who were present at their shop in Kucha Number 5 of Field Gunj area.

“It was the evening of Holi and there was huge rush in the market. I can recollect the whole incident. My husband had left the house in the evening after having tea. After 5 minutes, when I came out of the house after hearing the commotion, I witnessed total chaos in the street. People were scared to death, they told me that terrorists have killed many persons in the kutch number 5,” she said.

“I rushed to the shop bare footed. I was shocked to see the lifeless bodies of my husband and father-in-law lying in the shop. People were running here and there, I witnessed many other dead in the street,” she sobbed.

She felt that her life had been completely derailed. One out of her five daughters was married around 2 months prior to the incident. The government had started monthly pension of Rs 1,500 to her, but it was not enough for livelihood of a family.

“I had to live and earn for my daughters, so I braved the situation and opened a shop with help of my nephew Rakesh Kumar six months after the incident. Government had given a job to one of my daughters as compensation besides `1 lakh in cash. I struggled and solemnised the marriage of all children,” added Jeet Rani.

“I never celebrated holi after the incident. It reminds me the horrifying day that had ruined my life,” said Jeet Rani with choked voice.

Sweetshop owner saved the lives of 50

Mathura Das, 67, owner of a sweetmeat shop in the area fell prey to a string of bullets from terrorists. Satpal, son of the deceased said he along with his father was present at the shop, when terrorists opened their fire at innocent people.

“When they opened fire, I thought someone is firing crackers but all of sudden I noticed people rushed to our shop to take shelter. My father Mathura Das, who was sitting on the counter of the shop, gave them shelter to people. Meanwhile, a bullet pierced through the head of my father,” said Satpal.

Ashok Kumar, the younger son of Mathura Das said watching people playing colours on the festival turns them nostalgic.

They lost their 11-year-old daughter

Vimla Devi and her husband Ramesh Kumar lost their 11-years-old daughter Rajni in the attack. Rajni had gone to the to sweetmeat shop to buy milk, when a bullet hit her in the head. Vimla Rani, who helps her husband in their shoe shop, said the hospital did not give proper treatment to her daughter; otherwise her life could be saved.

“I saw two terrorists dressed in black. They had loaded their guns in front of my eyes. I had overheard their conversations. They were asking each other from where they should start killing people. After firing, someone from the area had taken injured Rajni home. I rushed her to Christian Medical college and Hospital, where she succumbed to injuries on March 19,” said Vimla Devi.

Rajni was student of Class 5 and the youngest of five siblings.

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