I will not get justice until all bombers are punished: 1993 blasts victim

The 1993 blasts not only robbed Sabiha Usmani of her right eye forever, but had also threatened both her life and that of her unborn child; while grateful that she and her child survived the ordeal, she wants all the culprits to be brought to justice

“Until all the masterminds behind the 1993 bomb blasts are punished, I won’t feel that justice has been done to me. The scars and damage from the blast are still fresh for me; I have become blind forever in one eye,” said Sabiha Usmani (47).

More than two decades later, Sabiha Usmani still has to undergo regular treatment for her damaged right eye, but says she finds the strength to go on from her husband Helal (right) and her father
More than two decades later, Sabiha Usmani still has to undergo regular treatment for her damaged right eye, but says she finds the strength to go on from her husband Helal (right) and her father

On the day of the attacks, more than two decades ago, a seven-months pregnant Sabiha and her sister were heading out for Eid shopping, when the blast ripped through their world. “On March 12, 1993, my elder sister and I were on our way to Breach Candy for Eid shopping.

The cab had just passed Sena Bhavan and we could see a blaze and a crowd gathered around it. We thought it was a routine fire, but when the cab reached Century Bazaar in Worli, everything went blank,” recalled Sabiha, a fashion designer.

“Everything had turned dark, but I could see that our cab was on fire. My sister whispered that it was a bomb blast. I could sense there was something in my hand – later, I realised it was my eye – but I was more concerned about my unborn child, which was to be our first after four years of marriage,” she said.

Sabiha and her sister stepped out of the burning taxi, leaving all their belongings including their purses containing about Rs 10,000 and walked towards the other side of the road to request other cabbies to take them to Hinduja Hospital.

Most of the cabs had been damaged in the blast, however, and the duo could find no one to ferry them to the hospital. In the meantime, their earlier driver asked them to pay the taxi fare. No sooner had they told him that all their money was in his car, than he left them there.

“I was bleeding and could sense that my eyeball had popped out. Thankfully my sister was unhurt. At last a cab driver agreed to drop us to the hospital. Till date we haven’t learnt who the Good Samaritan was, despite making attempts to trace him. He was responsible for saving my child and me, and I will always be indebted to his efforts,” Sabiha added.

She was the first blast patient to reach Hinduja Hospital, and she requested the doctors to try and save her eye so it could be reattached later. However, her optic nerve had been severely damaged, and she lost vision in her right eye forever.

“My parents and relatives were informed that there was a possibility of me slipping into a coma and so the doctors would only operate on me the next morning. I was conscious and even spoke to my family and treating doctors, trying to give them courage and hope that nothing would happen to me,” remembered the 47-year-old.

‘Family and willpower saved me’
She may have lost sight in one eye, but she is grateful that she and her baby survived the ordeal. “Though I lost vision in my right eye, I was lucky to be pulled out of the jaws of death, and luckily nothing untoward happened to my son who was still in my womb,” she said. Today, her son, Muzzammil is 22 years old and is a BMS student.

Sabiha is also mother to two more children and resides in Bandra with them and her husband, Helal Usmani (48), a businessman. Although she has had to undergo treatment for her damaged eye ever since, Sabiha said will power and support from her husband and father had kept her strong.

“I got the strength to face the ordeal from my husband and my father, Moin Ul Haq Chowdhary, who is a noted socialist and educationist,” she said, adding that she is scheduled for another surgery at Hinduja next month.

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