Mumbai: The 26/11 attacks in Mumbai in 2008, orchestrated by Pakistani terrorists, remain a haunting chapter in India's history. The coordinated terrorist attacks targeted iconic landmarks, leaving 166 dead and hundreds injured. Among the survivors was Devika Rotawan, a nine-year-old witness who later played a crucial role in the trial against Ajmal Kasab, the only terrorist captured alive. As the 15th anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks unfolds, Devika's life journey since that fateful night reveals a story of resilience, challenges, and unfulfilled aspirations.
The Night of Terror at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus:
Devika Rotawan, along with her father and brother, experienced the horror of the Mumbai terror attacks at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus. The family, waiting for a train to Pune, became victims of the indiscriminate shooting that unfolded, leaving Devika with a bullet wound. Her eyewitness account became pivotal in later trials.
A Young Witness and National Attention:
Devika's testimony, given as the youngest witness, garnered nationwide attention. Identifying Ajmal Kasab in court, her image circulated in the media, emphasizing the impact of the tragedy on a young life. The aftermath of the attack led to a prolonged hospital stay and disrupted schooling.
Struggles and Determination:
Despite facing health challenges and disruptions in her education, Devika resolved to become an IPS officer, aspiring to combat societal evils. However, the journey was fraught with setbacks, including a three-year battle with TB, further complicating her path to academic and career pursuits.
Current Challenges and Legal Battle:
Now a final-year student pursuing a BA course, Devika and her family continue to grapple with hardships. Living in rented accommodation, they are entangled in a legal battle for their own home. Devika's elder brother, despite being handicapped, works to support the family.
Reflections on Justice and Continuing Struggles:
Devika reflects on the flaws in the judicial system, pointing out disparities between the life of Ajmal Kasab in prison and her family's ongoing struggles. Despite Kasab's execution, Devika emphasizes the need to address the masterminds behind such attacks and the lasting impact on survivors.
As the 26/11 terror attacks mark their 15th anniversary, Devika Rotawan's story symbolizes the ongoing struggles faced by survivors and witnesses. The article calls for societal recognition and support for those who continue to navigate the aftermath of such traumatic events, emphasizing the importance of holistic aid beyond legal proceedings.