Last ride

Published : Jan 02, 2009 00:00 IST

Zarina Shamsuddin Sheikh and Reema Rabool Sheikh, who died in the taxi blast at Wadi Bunder.-PHOTOGRAPHS: BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Zarina Shamsuddin Sheikh and Reema Rabool Sheikh, who died in the taxi blast at Wadi Bunder.-PHOTOGRAPHS: BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

ZARINA SHAMSUDDIN SHEIKH had seven children. Reema Rabool Sheikh, Zarinas eldest daughter was married and had two children of her own. On November 26, 2008, Zarina and Reena took a taxi ride, which cost them their lives and left eight children bereft of their mothers.

The mother-daughter duo was due to spend the night at Reemas sister, Ruma Arif Sheikhs home, at Ekta Nagar slum, on Wadi Bunder road in Mazgaon. Says Yasmin Bansi Sheikh, Zarinas niece: They boarded a taxi from Dana Bunder and arrived at Rumas doorstep. Do you have change? the taxi driver asked. My aunt walked up to the door. Just then the taxi exploded and everything was blown to smithereens.

Rumas house was ripped from end to end. A manhole-sized mark on the cement road indicates the spot of the blast. A group of local women recall the horror still fresh in their minds, Parts of the taxi went flying and body parts were found at different places. There was nothing left of the driver [Fulchand Bhind]. His intestines were lying on the road. The crows kept picking at it. When the police came, they found one part of his body near the local railway station and a bone at the housing colony opposite it. One of the police officers went up a tree [about 150 metres away], to gather his remains, says a resident.

Sixty-year-old Sheikh Shamsuddin, Zarinas husband, fights back tears as he holds the passport-size photographs of his wife and daughter. He runs a small scrap shop in the Null Bazar area. Reema and Zarina used to attend to the shop in his absence, he says. Shamsuddin makes little money from the scrap. He admits that none of his children, or Reemas, ever went to school. He cannot afford the fees, uniform and textbooks. Zarinas youngest child is 12 years old. Reemas sons Ramzan, 10, and Firoze, 12, think that their mother has gone on Haj, says Yasmin.

Zarina and Reema were on one of the two taxis blasted in Mumbai on November 26. The other was at Ville Parle. According to Rakesh Maria, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime), Mumbai, the taxi blasts took place at 10.45 p.m. and 10.47 p.m. respectively. In both cases, about 8 kg of explosives were placed under the front seats of the taxis.

Mohammad Ajmal Amir Iman, the arrested terrorist, has reportedly said that his partner, Mohammad Ismail, and he planted the bomb that went off at Wadi Bunder.

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