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The Rediff Special/ A Ganesh Nadar in Mumbai
Why Sulochana cannot go back home
February 20, 2009
On November 26, 2008, Sulochana Lokhande and her husband were waiting for a train at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus [Images] in Mumbai [Images]. They had come to the city four days ago for a family function. The couple was to board a train to Gulbarga in Karnataka, from where they would change trains to take them home to Afzalpur.
Sulochana is 50 and has lived her entire life in Afzalpur. Thirty years ago she married a distant relative from the same town who worked as a tailor. The night of 26/11 drastically changed the regular course of their quiet and simple lives. For three months now, she has been at the JJ Hospital in south-central Mumbai and does not know when she can go back home.
On that fateful night, Sulochana and her husband were waiting at the crowded platform. It was 9 pm. Just after 9.30 pm, two murderers, later identified as Ajmal Amir Kasab [Images] and Abu Dera Ismael Khan, started firing indiscriminately with automatic weapons at the helpless passengers waiting to board their trains.
Fiftynine people died and hundreds were injured. Sulochana's left hand was shattered and her husband was shot in the leg. Passersby and fellow passengers took the injured to the St George's Hospital nearby. Those with serious injuries were shifted to the JJ Hospital.
At the hospital, Sulochana was admitted to special ward 35. Since her husband wasn't badly hurt, he recovered quickly and has since returned home. Not that he wanted to desert his wife, but since his aged parents were alone in the village, he was compelled to return and look after them.
The couple does not have any children which makes it even more difficult for them.
The government gave Sulochana a cheque for 50,000 as compensation which her husband has deposited in her account in their village. But the money has been of no use so far because the bank refused to release the amount till she returns home.
Her warm hands quiver as she grasped mine. "I have never been inside a hospital before. I have never needed to go to a hospital before. Why did this happen? Why am I in this strange city surrounded by strangers? I have been here for three months now. When will they let me go?"
"My place is there, what am I doing here? How long do you think I have to remain here?
Sulochana is the only victim of the 26/11 attacks who remains at the J J Hospital. All the others have gone home.
The special ward set up for the victims has been discontinued, and she has been shifted to the women's orthopaedic ward on the second floor.
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