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Night of loss

Print edition : Jan 02, 2009 T+T-
At St. George Hospital in Mumbai, Sharda Janardhan Chitekar (left) waits for the bodies of her two children who were killed in the terror attack at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus on November 26.-GURINDER OSAN/AP

At St. George Hospital in Mumbai, Sharda Janardhan Chitekar (left) waits for the bodies of her two children who were killed in the terror attack at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus on November 26.-GURINDER OSAN/AP

Most of the victims of the terror at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus were poor people, like the Chitekars.

AT the St. George Hospital compound on November 27, Janardhan Chitekar looked bewildered and lost. He was carrying two passport-size pictures of his children, showing them to anyone who could help him find them. He had received a call from a hospital around midnight saying his children had been grievously injured in the terror attack at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST). He spent the rest of the night going from hospital to hospital in search of them.

I dont know whether they are alive or dead. Since the uncle they were with is critically injured, we have no idea where they are, he told Frontline on November 27 at St. George Hospital. When the list of the dead from the CST was given to the media, the names Dipali Janardhan Chitekar, 10, and Raju Janardhan Chitekar, 8, were there.

Frontline met Chitekar a week after the attack. He said: To lose a child is the greatest loss for a human being. There is no way to describe how it feels to lose both your children.

Leaving two little children behind, Janardhan Chitekar and his wife, Sharda, had moved to Mumbai from Buldhana eight years ago in search of work. They lived in the northern suburb of Kandivili and were daily-wage labourers.

Every two or three months they went to the village to meet their children, who were in the care of Shardas parents. This year they brought the children to Mumbai for the Diwali holiday.

They were having such a good time that they refused to go back. I think they must have missed at least a month of school. Mumbai can be so much fun for village children. There is so much to see and do. Finally, because my wifes brother was returning, we convinced them to go back. They were catching the train from the CST when the terrorists killed them, said the distraught father.

Unfortunately, there is nothing one can do and there is no point blaming anyone. They were at the wrong place at the wrong time, he said. The government has offered them some compensation but he said no amount of money could compensate for the loss of his children.

Said Janardhan Chitekar: We have gone back to our village as being in Mumbai just now gives my wife a lot of grief. I am not sure whether we will come back to this city that saved us from poverty but snatched our most valuable possessions.