A tragic story behind the smiling face of Devika Rottavan, injured in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks - पोलिस कर्तव्य टाईम्स

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Friday, November 29, 2019

A tragic story behind the smiling face of Devika Rottavan, injured in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks



Devika was shot in the leg during a terrorist attack on Mumbai on November 26, 2008. This wound keeps me constantly looking, feeling. I still remember that day. I will never forget, not till death, says Devika. That night eleven years ago, ten attackers entered Mumbai by sea. He attacked two five-star hotels, a gutted café, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) and the Nariman House Jewish Center. 174 people were killed in the clash that lasted sixty hours. The whole world was shaken by that attack.


It's a hectic day
Devika was only nine years old at the time. She was going to catch the Pune train from CST with her father Natwarlal Rotavan and brother Jayesh. Meanwhile, Ajmal Kasab and Ismail Khan were admitted to CST around 9:30 pm. They had machine guns in their hands. Suddenly the firing started and Devika's world changed. The sound of the bullet hit. Everyone was running around, falling at each other. But as we tried to escape, a bullet struck me. I fell down, unconscious. Devika was saying.

Eleven years later, that moment brings a thorn in Devika's body. In the next three months, Devika has undergone several surgeries. And she rose to her feet again. Not only that, Devika patiently testified against Kasab in court.


Courage is the only testimony
Ajmal Kasab was the only terrorist arrested alive in the 26/11 attacks. Devika was the youngest witness to testify against him, identifying him in court. Devika and her father were very firm in their decision to testify in court.

Devika adds that when I was shot, my childhood was lost. But it also seemed like, well, I could stand up for the country. The media and the public appreciated the courage shown by Devika at that time. The case was settled and Kasab was also hanged. But it was even more difficult for Devika, who testified. Fearing that terrorists would follow her, many in the community preferred to stay four hours away from Devika and her family. I testified against terrorism. Someone called me Kasab's daughter, Devika Pottadiki was saying what the names of the people. Devika's family also had to change house. Currently she lives with her father and brother in a small house in a sitting chawl in Subhashnagar, Bandra.

The relatives left the desert
The Rotavan family was originally from Sumerpur in Pali district of Rajasthan. The relatives of the village have also removed Devika's family. We usually do not call if there is a ceremony or a wedding. People are afraid that the terrorists will come after us, kill us. Even though we went to our town, we had to stop at the hotel. Don't let us stay home, she explains.

Devika's father Natwarlal also regrets this. When my mother died, nobody told us before. Later, when we went there, he did not stay longer than three days. Natwarlal is worried about his daughter now that he was threatening her over the phone ... what will happen to her next? Will it get married or not? Their dryfruit business is now closed. With the help of some relatives and friends, the Rotavan family is taking the day off and now it is also hurting Devika's education. The little Devika suffered the death of her mother before the November 26 attack. Because of that, she had not started her education. But then it became even more difficult for her to attend school because of her testimony in court.
But Devika is standing up, studying and dreaming. I want to learn and become an IPS officer. Terrorists like Kasab want to end, she says. She hopes all those convicted of the 26/11 attacks will be punished. That is why she does not want to forget her injuries and that day. If we forget, it will mean that I forgive the extremists. But I cannot forgive them, unless they are alive.

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