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Survivors strive to erase scars

Mumbai, March 14: “It was a reflex action,’’ says Anil Kumar, explaining why he flung himself from the local train after a powerful bomb ripped through its first-class ladies’ compartment yesterday.

“But when I looked around in the darkness, all I could see were battered bodies and the severed limbs of a woman,” says Kumar.

Kumar is lucky to have survived the blast in Mulund station that has left 12 dead and 86 injured.

Unable to hear properly after the sound of the blast nearly split his eardrums, Kumar says what scares him, and the host of others who share his plight, is that he will have to board the same train at the same time again.

“You know, we always feel it is others who get killed,’’ he says from his bed in Sion Hospital. “Now I know better.”

For the injured, life will never be the same again.

“I was very young when the Mumbai serial blasts happened 10 years ago,’’ says Shilpa, who was on the ill-fated 7.56 Karjat fast train.

“Today, I can imagine what it may have been like then. My heart is still pounding. I am so scared.”

At Rajawadi Hospital, Ganesh Kore says it was sheer misfortune that he took the train. “Usually, I take the slow train, but I thought I would surprise my family by arriving home a little earlier,” he says. “I didn’t know this would happen,” adds the survivor.

Kore says he lost consciousness after the bomb exploded around 8.40 pm.

He was thrown off balance and landed on the gravel below. When he woke up, Kore found himself lying under a heap of bodies.

“I don’t know how I landed up here,” says an Income Tax employee at Mulund Hospital.

“The last thing I remember is the deafening sound. I just don’t understand why innocent people are the ones who are always targeted. It has become so unsafe.”

“I believe the roof of the compartment was torn to shreds,” Arvind Vedekar says, his head still throbbing from the blow. Happy to have escaped, but scared that the memory of seeing death so closely will never leave him, Arvind says Mumbai trains are the softest targets because of the enormous volume of passengers.

“How can anyone keep a tab on the passengers' Everyone in Mumbai travels by trains and most have at least a handbag with them, either carrying food or office files. A bag carrying food can hold anything.”

After the incident, all railway stations in Mumbai were put on maximum alert, but passengers know it is not a permanent solution.

“There were seven policemen in the first-class ladies’ compartment I just disembarked from,’’ says Sudeshna Rathi after getting down from a slow train from Vashi.

“It is heartening to see so much security but what can they do if a bomb explodes in the luggage cabin or the crowded men’s general'” she asks as she waits at Dadar for a connecting train to Churchgate.

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