Hope amid the ashes

Print edition : February 02, 2018

Two anecdotes of my coverage of my city which was set aflame do not fail to empower me still. One was when I visited Kurla West the morning after December 7. A mob attack had taken place the night before. I was led to a building of Muslim residents, trembling and relieved as they recounted the horrors they had witnessed. They would not have survived but for a brave woman in her seventies, Vimlabai Khawnekar. Her son, Bharat Khawnekar, was the local Shakha Pramukh of the Shiv Sena. He, in an inebriated state, led the mob to attack that building. His mother strode to the front and dared him to attack the hapless Muslims over her dead body. She was later awarded a medal for bravery.

The other is the story of Khansaheb from Dharavi whose elder son had been stabbed fatally as he returned from work that December. He lived for a few days before he succumbed to his injuries and in those hours shared the names of his assailants with his father. Khansaheb's younger son was angry, burning with a desire to retaliate, pressing his father to reveal their identity. ""I want this cycle of violence to stop, not spiral," a determined father said in the midst of deep grief.

Teesta Setalvad

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