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Amritsar train tragedy eclipses ‘karwa chauth’ for these women

Navpreet Kaur, 23, who lost her husband in the tragedy, was excited for the festival till about eight days ago.

punjab Updated: Oct 27, 2018 09:05 IST
Surjit Singh
Surjit Singh
Hindustan Times, Amritsar
Amritsar train tragedy,karwa chauth,Amritsar
Sisters Aruna Devi and Sita Devi lost their husbands, Girender Kumar and Pawan Kumar, respectively, who were also real brothers, in the train tragedy. (HT Photo)

Nothing appears amiss in the markets around Jaura Phatak where 62 Dussehra revellers were mowed down by a DMU on October 19. Stalls selling karwa chauth goodies and mehndi artists are as busy attending to the customers. But the tragedy has made karwa chauth meaningless for a number of women.

Navpreet Kaur, 23, who lost her husband in the tragedy, was excited for the festival till about eight days ago. She had married Dalbir Singh in 2016 and her husband, despite hardships, tried his best to keep her happy.

He had bought Navpreet a Rs 2,000 dress for karwa chauth.

“My husband bought me a beautiful blue dress for karwa chauth two days before his death,” she says.

Her 10-month-old daughter Manpreet in arms, Navpreet shows the dress to this correspondent with moist eyes. She says karwa chauth now has no meaning to her. “Dalbir would call Manpreet ‘pari (fairy)’,” she says as her daughter plays with a toy duck that Dalbir had bought her on day of the accident.

More tragic was the fact that Navpreet’s birthday was on day her husband died. Dalbir’s mother Swaran Kaur pitches in, saying her son had ordered a birthday cake for Navpreet and planned to cut it once he was back after the Dussehra function. Equally ironical is the fact Dalbir played the role of Ravan in the Ram Lila and died on Dussehra day as his family waited for him at home.

Dalbir’s father was also mowed down by a train about eight years ago. Dalbir, along with his brother used to make kites for a living. Now, the breadwinner is gone.

Real sisters rendered widows

The world came crashing down for real sisters Aruna and Sita Devi on Dussehra as they lost their husbands Girender Kumar, 40, and Pawan Kumar, 38, respectively, in the train tragedy.

The sisters have confined themselves to the house since and make conscious efforts to avoid a glance at the festive atmosphere outside.

Fruit-vendors Girender and Pawan migrated from Hardoi district of Uttar Pardesh decades back.

“We would celebrate karwa chauth with enthusiasm matching those of Punjab families. But, now it’s gloomy,” says Gaikara Devi, the grieving mother, who spoke as her daughters-in-law were unable to speak.

Girender’s 20-year-old son Deepak Kumar says the family is well-settled here and they have no plans to return to the native place.

He said he is the eldest among the kids in the joint family of two brothers and the responsibility to look after them is on his shoulders now.

Deepak is pursuing BSc (hotel management) and eligible for the job announced for the MC for the victim families.

She lost husband, son

Another migrant woman from Bihar, 28-year-old Aarti, did not only lose her husband Jatinder Dass, a labourer, but also her year-and-half-old son Shivam. Residing in a rented accommodation, she has bigger concerns on her mind than the festivities.

Traumatised by the tragedy, she is not able to make up her mind whether to stay around or go back to Bihar.

Assurances of help from the administration are her only hope for survival.

First Published: Oct 27, 2018 09:04 IST