11/7 Mumbai train blasts verdict: Survivors recall their tale

Roysten D’Mello (38), Mahim blast survivor
On that fateful day, I left office as usual, and boarded a Borivli train from Dadar. Suddenly, something happened at Mahim. A blast occurred seven feet away from me. Soon after the blast, current started to flow inside the compartment and I suffered a jolt upon holding one of the handles during an attempt to get up on my feet. It was terrible.

The current stopped once the train halted. Everyone around me had collapsed on the floor, while a few were thrown out after the explosion. There were too many dead people around me. That day my life changed. I had a brush with death and came back. The injuries I sustained have altered my life forever.

I have a steel rod inserted in my left hand — which has lost sensation — to hold it together. I lost 85 per cent hearing and my skull sustained a hairline facture. I was hospitalised for 21 days after the blast and have undergone three surgeries till date.

Yesterday’s verdict has come late in the day, considering the number of lives lost. I hope it at least offers some consolation to the families of those who lost their loved ones.

Prathmesh Tawade (27), Mira Road blast survivor
I was a Std XII student of Chetna College then. On that day, I left college at 5:30 pm and took a train from Bandra station. I was to get down at Bhayander. Suddenly, an explosion occurred in the compartment and four people fell on me, all dead. My head started spinning and I couldn’t understand what was happening around me.

I was rushed to Bhagwati Hospital, where I vomited blood twice. The blast left me bedridden for nearly 10 months. It ruined my life completely. I lost out on numerous employment opportunities due to a hearing impairment. While my right ear is totally damaged, I can barely hear through the left one.

Suresh Salunke, Parag Sawant’s uncle
Sawant succumbed to his injuries this July, nine years after the blast
We stay in Bhayandar and my nephew, an assistant sales executive, was returning home from his Andheri office when the blast occurred. Since then he had been in coma. Though he regained consciousness for six months in between, he breathed his last on July 7 this year.

Parag Sawant’s photo placed near an 11/7 blasts memorial at Mahim station. Sawant breathed his last on July 7 this year. File pic
Parag Sawant’s photo placed near an 11/7 blasts memorial at Mahim station. Sawant breathed his last on July 7 this year. File pic

Three months after the blast, his wife gave birth to a girl, who is now in Std IV. But till date she doesn’t know that her father is no more. Commenting on the acquittal of one of the accused, Sawant’s father said, “I think even that the 13th accused should have been punished.

All of them should be hanged. Only we know what Parag and we went through. Our son was the sole breadwinner for the family. But his wife has filled his shoes since the incident.”

Ashwin Boricha (38), Jogeshwari blast survivor
I boarded the train from Dadar for Borivli, and the blast occurred at Jogeshwari. There was utter chaos. All I could hear were cries and screams. I knew something horrible had occurred, but couldn’t see or understand because the blast had numbed all my senses.

I lost my right eye. My hearing has been reduced to just 30 per cent. I was bedridden for six months. Even today, I’m spending on various treatments. I still have shrapnel embedded in my face and thigh — a lifelong reminder of that horrific day. Moreover, I had to overcome the fear of travelling by train.

It was here that I realised that I must help the needy, the way I was helped. As for the conviction, I feel it’s too late and it doesn’t affect me. It has been nine years and my life changed after that incident.

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