Devika Rotawan turns 17 on December 27 this year, but she is gearing up for the barrage of birthday wishes she will receive today. This has been the trend for the past seven years, since she survived the gruesome terror attack that unfolded at CST on November 26.
Devika Rotawan was barely 10 during the attacks and was the youngest witness in the case, and to identify Ajmal Qasab. Pic/Nimesh Dave
Though she is still referred to as the “Qasab girl,” Devika and her family are trying to move on and putting their life together again. The brave teenager also aims to join the Indian Police Service (IPS).
In their small room in Bandra (E), Devika was busy cooking for her father, when this reporter and photographer arrived to meet them. “It took us almost two years to get her admitted in a nearby school.
She was left injured by the bullet that pierced through her right leg and used to walk around with the help of crutches, but for the past couple of years, she has been walking normally,” said Natwarlal Rotawan, (52), Devika’s father, a shop worker. Two schools denied her admission, stating they feared giving admission to a girl in the middle of the terror hearings.
Later Devika managed to get admission at IES New English School in Bandra (E). She is preparing to give her Std X examinations soon. “In the beginning, all the kids in school would call me Qasab, or even Qasab ki beti and made fun of my limp, but none of these comments hurt me because I knew what they didn’t.
The years my family and I spent recuperating from the incident, have given us all more reason to enjoy life, and not be sad about anything,” said the girl, who is quite famous in her colony.
On that fateful night, Devika, her father and brother were waiting at CST to board a train to Pune, where her older brother works and lives. Suddenly, there was chaos as the terrorists fired and like everybody else, the Rotawans ran to find shelter. There was pandemonium and before they could realise what was happening, Devika was shot and bleeding.
“I ran to nearby St George hospital with my children, but the bullet was removed only the next day, after we moved her to J J Hospital,” added Natwarlal. After six surgeries within a year of the attacks and many physiotherapy sessions, Devika can finally let go of the crutches. While the bullet that pierced her right leg has been removed, the scar still remains.
“Every time the weather gets cold, I start limping again. But none of this matters anymore because I know what I want from life. I will complete my graduation and focus on appearing for IPS. The first time I was the victim, next time I’ll be the saviour,” added the teenager.