As memories of 26/11 gradually recede into the past, grieving relatives and loved ones of victims are slowly putting the trauma of the carnage behind them, knowing they have no option but to soldier on. While many of these victims found some kind of resolution in Qasab’s execution, there are others for whom closure is still a distant dream.
Take the case of 40-year-old Poonam Singh. Every step that the Vikhroli resident takes brings back agonising memories of the carnage. Four years have passed, but a bullet fired by Qasab at her on November 26 is still lodged in her stomach.
On the night of the attack, Poonam was waiting at CST to board a train when Qasab opened fire. She tried to shield her son, and took a bullet in the process. While another bullet grazed her six-year-old son, another injured his his right thigh. The boy eventually lost one of his fingers.
The attack was just the beginning of a sequence of catastrophic incidents for the woman’s family. Having to take frequent leaves to tend to his wife, Poonam’s husband Santosh, who was the sole breadwinner of the family, lost his job.
“I cannot perform my household chores, nor can I walk properly. The doctors who had operated on me in December last year said that the pain would keep increasing as days pass by,” Poonam said.
The family claims that till December last year, they were unaware of the fact that the bullet was lodged in Poonam’s stomach. “Last year in December when her condition worsened, I took her to a private hospital. That is when we came to know about the remains of the bullet. The bullet had gone in through her right shoulder, and it was found in her stomach,” said Santosh.
He added, “Due to the carelessness of the doctors at JJ hospital, I developed hernia. While the hernia was being removed by the doctors at Joy Hospital in Chembur, we were informed about the remains of bullet.”
The Singhs have received a compensation of Rs 2 lakh, of which one lakh was paid by the Centre while the remaining amount was paid by the state government and the Indian Railways. Their expenditure, has far exceeded the amount.
Poonam, who has four children, said, “I need to visit the doctor and therapist regularly. Every time I had an appointment, my husband accompanied me. He had to take leaves continuously to do so, and eventually lost his job a few months ago.”
JJ hospital says
TP Lahane, dean of JJ Group of hospitals, said, “In such scenarios, we remove the bullet only if the situation demands it. It is not possible that we have not informed the family members about the bullet in her body. The final report that we give to the patient while giving discharge will not miss such information.”
Singh, who was travelling to UP for her uncle’s funeral, was waiting for her train at CST with her family. Her six-year-old son was the first to hear the sound of gunshots, and ran off to trace the noise to its source. Trying to shield her son from gunfire, she took a bullet. “I am scared of visiting that station again, as it still haunts me. I always board trains from the Lokmanya Tilak Terminus,” she said.