On 26 November 2008, as the darkness of night was descending on the nation, terror struck. It came with guns and bombs, and the air of Mumbai, the financial capital of India, was filled with the sounds of bullets, and the despairing screams of helpless people in the face of the assault. The 26/11 attack or the Mumbai terror attack of 2008 that was carried out by ten members of Lashkar-e-Taiba remains one of the biggest and most gruesome acts of terrorism perpetrated on Indian soil.
Devika Rotawan on that fateful night was just 10 years old. In an interview with the Humans of Bombay, she has narrated her feelings and her experiences of that day.
The little girl went to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus with her father and brother when chaos ensued, and all hell broke loose. Mayhem erupted, and just when she tried to run, a bullet tore through her right leg. The last thing she remembers before being unconscious was the face of the man who shot her.
The next day when she woke up at the hospital, memories came rushing back. The screams of women and children slaughtered mercilessly, the unmitigable pain on their horrified faces in a bloodbath where 166 people died and 300 were injured. And she remembered the face of the attacker. She spent one and a half months in the hospital, and when she came out, there was a battle waiting for her. A fight to punish those perpetrators, to testify in the court.
When the police called her father and requested her to be a witness, she and her family agreed. Despite being shunned by her extended family, for the fear of terrorists' revenge seeped into their hearts, she went to the court in crutches. When the moment of recognising the attacker arrived, she immediately pointed out the one she despised during her stay in the hospital. The person went by the name of Ajmal Kasab.
And it was then that she decided to become an IPS officer. "Even though Ajmal Kasab is no more, my anger will only fully subside once I become an IAS officer and fight all this injustice," she said. Her family had to pay a heavy price for testifying in the court. Her father's dry fruit shop was drained of business, their landlord hiked the rent thinking that they had earned money from publicity.
The State Government is yet to give the promised flat. But the fight goes on, with the pride that whatever they did, they did it for the sake of the country. The anger is still there, lurking in the corner of a courageous heart. A heart that is filled with a determination for revenge, and to wage a war against the injustices of the world.
In the conversation with Humans of India, she said, ‘Till date, I can’t enjoy Diwali or celebrate India’s win in Cricket because the sound of fireworks traumatizes me -- I know I’m not getting all these years back, but there will be an answer someday. They will face the consequence of raising a finger towards India… I will make sure of it.”
The nation can sleep in peace now, for it has a brave girl protecting the territory.