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German Bakery Blast: Eight years on... survivors lead transformed lives

Eight years after the terror attack in Koregaon Park, victims have let go off the horrid past and have embraced positive and peaceful life.

pune Updated: Feb 13, 2018 14:08 IST
Anjali Shetty
Anjali Shetty
Hindustan Times, Pune
german bakery,terror,pune
German Bakery at Koregaon Park in Pune. (Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)

There were about 60 patrons present inside this popular restaurant in Koregaon Park when a power explosion at 7.15 pm killed nine people instantly. As the days passed, the number of dead rose to 18 people and 50 suffered varying degrees of injuries.

Deeply scarred by the injuries they suffered, the victims who survived have battled on the personal fronts to put the pieces of their lives together. A few of those survivors spoke to Hindustan Times and shared the story of how a regular Saturday evening changed their lives forever.

Channelling youth and spreading peace: Amrapali Chavan

A 23-year-old in 2010, Amrapali Chavan was at the German Bakery restaurant during one of her usual visits. She lives with her parents Sulochana and Janardhan, sister Jyoti and brother Nilesh in Vishrantwadi.

The powerful blast left her physically and mentally traumatised with 54 per cent burns and one handicapped leg.

The last eight years have seen innumerable hospital rounds with six major surgeries and more than 200 non-surgical interventions. This is what has defined the last eight years for her.

At the same time, the experience strengthened her spirit and she decided to work for the cause of peace. In the year 2014, she started an NGO, Peace Association, under the guidance of Nehru Yuva Kendra, Delhi, to motivate the youth about how they can use their time and energy doing something for society and the nation. Through her NGO, she visits schools and colleges across the state to help channelise the energies of the youth and set them on the right path.

“I had two options, either to sit and cry over what happened or get up and make a difference. I I chose to use my positivity to spread awareness and bring about a positive change in the society,” says Amrapali, who is also working on an initiative, Peace and Friendship, where in 47 members from 13 countries will be coming together to spread peace messages against terrorism.

She also participated in the 2015 base camp climb at Stok Kangri, Leh Ladakh, and has directed a 3.30 minute short film, Sound of Peace. She is awaiting the launch of her book, Ek Cup Coffee. With a BA in Sociology, Amrapali is currently pursuing masters in social work.

Moving on confidently: Shree Krishna Thapa

A 39-year-old Shree Krishna Thapa continues to be haunted and traumatised by the memory of February 13, 2010. There are days when the nightmare of intense pain and panic-stricken screams of the blast revisit him.“Life has not been normal since. Physically and mentally I still have issues especially my left ear still doesn’t have full hearing capacity. Mentally, I still have nightmares of that evening,” he said. The young father to two kids, lives with his mother and wife and works as a captain in Malaka Spice, Vimannagar. On that day, eight years ago, he was on his way out after his shift from the bakery on that fateful evening.

Shree Krishna is livid about what happened on that day, however, he has been trying to let go and move ahead. “I can’t change what happened on that day. But I can change what I can do now. So, I have decided to be positive and be happy. I am grateful to be alive and have a loving and supportive family.”

Looking at the brighter side: Sumeet Singh

Sumeet Singh was 25-years-old and graduated in law from Symbiosis Law School in Pune in 2009. He was at the Bakery on February 13, for a reunion with his law school friends.

Corporate lawyer, Sumeet Singh did not let the blast deter his spirit. He was determined to fight back even when he was covered in blood and saw his two friends lie motionless in front of him. Sumeet, now 33, has that same spirit and wants to be firmly positive about life.

It was as recently as February 11 that he got married marking a new beginning in his life.“It is a new beginning for me in every sense. As far as the incident is considered, it has been eight years now,” he said. Even then, he did not left him affect him negatively and destroy his spirit.

“I never cried over it,” he said, and did not indulge in self-pity. “I am grateful to have survived the blasts and can’t even imagine what the families who lost their near and dear ones are going through,” he added. Sumeet feels the emptiness and deep pain of losing his best friends. Nevertheless, he has moved on and is a practising corporate lawyer.

“It has made me a stronger person and my outlook towards life has changed. Yes, it pains me to see a slow judicial system and I hope that there is some closure for the victims’ families and other survivors. Monetary compensation can only heal physical wounds, the loss of someone is irreplaceable,” he said.

Let’s understand what goes on in the minds of terrorists: Vikas Gaurav

Vikas, an alternative healing therapist, was 42 when he was at the bakery with his friends on February 13, 2010.

He suffered serious injuries to his eyes, ears and legs and says that he has to still prove to the government that he is 50 per cent physically handicapped to receive full compensation.

Vikas reflected deeply on the problem of terrorism and feels strongly that the world needs a permanent solution to terror attacks. “We have to go to the root of this problem. Legal procedures are not a solution, we need to understand what goes on in the mind of a terrorist.”

First Published: Feb 12, 2018 23:39 IST