A journey of hope on ' Sabarmati Express'

On February 27, 2002 Satish Mishra along with his wife and teenage daughter were returning to Vadodara in S 6 coach of the Sabaramati Express.

Just a few hours before the family could reach their destination the journey came to a horrendous end. A mob attacked the coach on the outskirts of Godhra and Satish lost his wife. He, along with his daughter, was injured in the attack which set off one of the worst communal riots in the country’s history.

For a small time worker in a Vadodara factory, Satish’s world came crashing down. But 10 years down the line, life seems to be chugging on, though the memories of his wife continue to traumatise him. Call it fate or irony, it will be on the same date 10 years later, Mishra will be taking the same train to Allahabad. This time for something he would cherish for long – the marriage of his daughter Archana who is now 21.

Perhaps the only difference will be that this time, he will not be travelling on the S 6 coach. The incident had left 59 people dead and also set off a series of rioting incidents across the state.

Mishra had severe burns on his scalp and hand and his daughter, then a 11-year-old also had sustained burns. Mishra recollects that they were initially treated at Civil Hospital in Godhra and then were shifted to Sir Sayajirao Gaekwad Hospital in Vadodara. Mishra recollects that he was able to push his daughter out of the burning coach but could not see his wife Mangla amidst the panic and confusion.

“I had last seen her on the train but later could not trace her and when we went back to Godhra hospital later we came to know that she was treated for her burns but there was no further information about her,” says Mishra.

Mishra has been travelling by the Sabarmati as this is the only train that takes him to his village but this time, a decade later he is travelling on the date that has left a scar on his mind and body forever. Yet, he has reserved a ticket on the same Sabarmati Express and will travel on February 27, 2012, to attend Archana’s wedding at CSM Nagar in Uttar Pradesh.

For Mishra, it is simply a matter of convenience. He is aware of the significance of his journey, but says, “One has to do certain things whether one likes them or not. The Sabarmati Express and Avadh Express are the only two trains by which I can reach my village in the CSM Nagar district and Sabarmati Express is the most convenient.”

This, however, is not the first time that Mishra is boarding the Sabarmati Express after 2002. He has travelled by it occasionally in the last decade, even in the S-6 coach. Perhaps an indicator that life has to move on.

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