26/11 is a living ordeal for this victim's family

Injured in blast triggered by Kasab, her husband lies incapacitated

26/11 is a living ordeal for this victim's family

Courage under fire: Baby Chowdhary.Two years ago, the cataclysmic event of 26/11 changed the life of this simple family woman forever. Baby is busy even now–only the profile of her activities has changed. The mornings are now reserved for taking her husband to hospital, running around for compensation, getting her own leg injury treated while fervently hoping to land a job.
Besides taking care of the couple’s two children, Baby has to look after her husband’s parents and two sisters too. On the night when Mumbai faced one of the most audacious attacks by Pakistani terrorists, Baby’s husband Shyamsunder, a biscuit factory worker, was badly injured in a blast. He recovered from it, only to fall sick again eight months ago.

“Every day is like a struggle for me. For the past eight months, I have been practically begging for money from people I know. Apart from the mounting medical bills for my husband, I have to support a family of eight, including myself,” said Baby, who is recovering from the injury she sustained while on duty at the five-star Taj Lands in Bandra. She fell from the stairs in the hotel after only a couple of days into her job.

Shyamsunder had almost recovered from his multiple injuries, which he suffered when the taxi bomb exploded in Vile Parle, a north eastern suburb in Mumbai two years ago. The bombs were planted by captured terrorist Ajmal Kasab, who is currently on death row in Arthur Road central prison, and his accomplice Abu Ismael. They had hired the cab at Badhwar Park and before alighting at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), had planted the bomb underneath. The bomb exploded when the taxi reached Vile Parle and both the driver and a passenger commuting in it were instantly killed.

That night, Shyamsunder had left his home from Sambhaji Nagar slum in Vile Parle for his night shift at the nearby Parle biscuit factory. As he reached the main road, he blacked out after a deafening explosion in the taxi, the roof of which hit him on his head and right shoulder.

School students light candles to pay tribute to the martyrs of 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks on its 2nd anniversary in Faridabad on Thursday. PTI The blast brought residents of Sambhaji Nagar to the spot, from where they rushed Shyamsunder and other injured persons to the hospital. Timely treatment and his own good fortune put him back on his feet. Though he had memory loss, Shyam was back to the packing job, enabling him to sustain his meagre earnings.

That was until eight months ago, when Shyam, the sole breadwinner of the family, once again felt the effect of his injuries as a brain disability paralysed him. “The right side of his brain has stopped functioning due to some infection and doctors say the infection is spreading to the left as well. Chances of recovery or survival appear bleak,” Baby said, pointing that the disability was found through an MRI scan.

The money Baby gets from Taj Welfare Trust, the charity set up by the Taj Hotel to help 26/11 victims not associated with the hotel, keeps the family going, but she finds it increasingly harder to support Shyam who has to survive on liquid diet and fruits. “Where do I get the money to buy fruits that are so expensive?” she asks.

Besides paying Rs 10,000 for the family’s sustenance, the Trust is also footing the bill for the children’s school and private tuition as well as supporting Shyamsunder’s medical treatment at KEM hospital, its manager Deepak Bhatia told Deccan Herald.

However, Shyam’s spiralling medical bills continue to plunge the family in financial crisis, prompting Baby to appeal for his mercy killing two months ago. The NGO ‘IndiaHelps’ came to her rescue. The Trust has trained Baby and is all set to put her in a job in the housekeeping section at Taj Lands, but a leg injury she sustained is delaying the process.

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