‘26/11 witness had recovered well, was home for 12 days’
Harishchandra Shrivardhankar, 68, one of the key witnesses in the 26/11 terror attack case, who helped identify terrorist Ajmal Kasab, suffered a cardiac arrest and died at his house in Kalyan on Tuesday.
“His helping nature and concern for others are what we miss when he is no more with us. He had recovered from his illness and was home with us for around 12 days before he died of cardiac arrest,” said his eldest son Mangesh Shrivardhankar, 42.
On November 26, 2008, Shrivardhankar was shot twice in the back by Pakistani terrorists Kasab and his accomplice Abu Ismail outside Cama Hospital. According to a 2010 HT report, he went on to become one of the main witnesses who deposed before the special court.
HT had reported on May 5 how Shrivardhankar, who was found lying helpless on the footpath near a shop at Saat Rasta in Chinchpokli on April 29, was reunited with his family by the store owner, Dean D’Souza and his friends on May 1.
“Our local doctor who checked him said it was a cardiac arrest. We had just bought him home from the hospital on May 15 as doctors said he had recovered. He was also talking properly. We had maintained a proper diet for him,” said Mangesh.
“Even after the attack, he resumed his work with the food and civil supplies department and continued for one year till his retirement. He used to talk about the incident to his colleagues a lot. He recollected the attack all the time and that somehow may have affected him mentally,” said Mangesh.
When Shrivardhankar was reunited with his family on May 1, his health condition had deteriorated, he had a leg injury and hardly spoke. According to his family, he used to suffer from memory loss and had left home earlier in March. At the time, his family has lodged a missing person complaint at the Khadakpada police station in Kalyan (West).
“Like every day he went down to roam in our locality. He used to often meet his friends after retirement. That day he didn’t return and we kept searching. He was a social person who loved helping others, meeting people, and also reach out to those in help,” said Mangesh.
After he was found in Chinchpokli and returned home, local corporator Daya Gaikwad helped the family get ₹10 lakh aid for Shrivandhankar’s treatment from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had also visited him at the hospital in Kalyan and announced monetary help from the party.
Shrivardhankar is survived by his wife, two sons, and a daughter.
“We have received a cheque from the party which is yet to clear. We are grateful to all those who came forward to help us in our difficult times,” said Mangesh. “It gives us immense relief that we could look after him for some days before he left us. During his missing period he suffered a leg injury which was also treated at the hospital,” he added.
Gaikwad, who attended his final rites, said, “The monetary help which was announced by the party will be given. They come from a middle-class family and the money will definitely help them. We are glad that at least we could take care of the braveheart for a few days.”
Former mayor of Kalyan, Rajendra Deolekar, who also attended the rituals, said, “His nature of helping the others and his bravery will also remain in our hearts. He has set an example for others. Being a common man, he took all the risks and fought for the country.”