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Blast victims get money, but have no bank accounts
Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Mumbai |
September 01, 2003 20:02 IST
Last Updated: September 01, 2003 14:15 IST
A week after Mumbai was rocked by twin bomb blasts, there are neither VIP visitors nor policemen outside J J Hospital's ward #17. A solitary nurse attends to the patients.
The only unusual sign is the hospital's security staff, which continues to maintain a vigil. Ward 17 houses some of the injured victims of the blasts.
Three of the patients, Nayab Khan, Shankar Debey and Rajaram Ramu Parte, were injured in the first blast that ripped through Mumbai's Zaveri Bazaar on August 25.
Another link binds them together -- none of them has a bank account. This means they cannot encash the compensation that has been awarded to them by the Government of Maharashtra.
"I am injured and lying in hospital," says Debey. "I have been given a cheque for Rs 25,000 [as compensation]. I don't know what to do with it. I cannot go out and open a bank account at this juncture. I have never visited a bank in my life."
Debey worked as a helper at a sugarcane juice stall near Mumbadevi temple at Zaveri Bazaar. He hails from Kolambi village near Pune and like thousands of others attracted to the metropolis came here to earn money.
"I have never been to a post office or a bank," he continues. "I have only sent money home through friends. And whenever my family is in dire need, I go myself."
Debey says that when he got the cheque, he told the government officials who had come to give it to him that he has no bank account. "They told me I should go to a bank and open a new account with Rs 500.
"I was shocked. How can I go to open a bank account when I am lying here? I only hope this cheque is of use to me when I am discharged."
Nayab Khan, who worked with him at the same stall, faces the same dilemma. "I am a casual labourer and an anghoota chaap [street lingo for an illiterate person who uses his thumb impression as his signature]. I can't read or write. They have given me a cheque for Rs 25,000.
"I don't know how to open a bank account. I only hope some bank allows me to open an account without a fuss, otherwise this cheque is of no use to me. The owner of my stall has promised to help me open an account."
Khan too sends money to his family in Balrampur, Uttar Pradesh, through friends. He tries to visit them once a year.
Rajaram Ramu Parte, the third injured person in the ward, says, "There are nearly 15 casual labourers injured in this blast who have no bank account. The government is announcing a big amount as compensation without realising that none of us has a bank account. Our existence is hand-to-mouth. If we don't earn for even one day, we go hungry."
Debey, Khan and Parte earn between Rs 2,500 and Rs 3,000 a month, of which they send home Rs 1,000. Parte says, "I had a bank account eight years ago. I deposited Rs 250 in Indian Bank. But I have not operated that account for more than eight years. I don't know if it still exists. I plan to go there and request the manager to reactivate my account."
They are also concerned about the compensation. "The government announced Rs 50,000 as compensation, but we have only been given Rs 25,000. I hope they are looking into this matter," Parte adds.
The victims, however, are happy with the hospital authorities; they say they are getting good treatment at no cost. But they are worried whether they will be able to live a normal life after witnessing the terrorist attacks.
"I only hope I can continue to work normally," says Parte. "The sound of the bomb still haunts me."
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