| Scarred for life: Thusha with her mother Sharmila
Sweet innocence vs pure evil
Little Thusha has touched the heart of the nation. The five-year-old was happily skipping along in her uncle’s shop, Stockwell Food and Wine, in south London, in March last year.
Suddenly, three gang members, Nathaniel Grant, 21, Anthony McCalla, 20, and Kazeem Kolawole, 19, chased one of their rivals, Roshaun Bryan, into the shop.
Grant fired his gun, hitting a shopper, Roshan Selvakumar, in the face — bullet fragments will remain permanently lodged in his brain.
Although Thusha Kamaleswaran was obstructing Grant’s line of fire, he pressed the trigger again. The .22 bullet “hit Thusha in the chest and passed through the seventh vertebra of her spine”.
Her tiny body lay crumpled on the floor in a pool of blood. “Always happy and smiling, a child hopping around like a rabbit — now paralysed,” was how her distraught mother, Sharmila, would describe her daughter later.
Thusha went into cardiac arrest twice and had to undergo emergency surgery, both in the shop and in hospital. She “will spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair” and require further operations.
After the three gangsters were convicted last week, Thusha’s mother and her father, Jeyakumar Ghanasekaram, who have two other children, expressed their gratitude to the emergency services: “In particular, we must thank the paramedics and doctors who operated twice to save Thusha’s life, to the Metropolitan Police Service for their support throughout the investigation and subsequent trial, and to all the staff and particularly the physiotherapists at King’s College and Stoke Mandeville hospitals.”
There is the obvious racial aspect to the case that remains unspoken. The victim’s parents left war ravaged Sri Lanka and thought they had found a peaceful haven in Britain.
The perpetrators are all black but a moment’s reflection makes it clear that they, too, are victims. Uneducated, unemployed, unemployable and in most cases unloved, many black youth are sucked into the country’s growing gun culture. The three youths will emerge from prison as even more hardened criminals.
Thusha has managed to say: “I cannot move. I wanted to learn to dance properly. Now I am stuck in the hospital in a wheelchair learning to wheel myself around. I am scared to get into the car because of the strangers all around us. I worry someone will try to hurt me again.”
| Mumbai memories: Shrien and Anni on their wedding day in November 2010
The murder of Anni Dewani continues to fascinate the media. She is the 28-year-old bride who was shot dead in a South African township in November 2010 while on honeymoon with her husband, Shrien Dewani, following their Mumbai marriage.
Last week, BBC’s Panorama broadcast the result of its investigation, The Honeymoon Murder, which substantially unravelled the prosecution case though it did not declare Shrien innocent of plotting to have his wife bumped off.
Anni’s father, Vinod Hindocha, who brought up his family in Sweden, understandably dismissed the Panorama findings as “misleading”.
However, never before seen hotel CCTV footage recorded just a few hours before Anni’s kidnap and murder shows the couple being relaxed and affectionate with each other.
When Shrien raised the alarm after the hijacked taxi with his wife was driven away by her killers, the first person to get to him was Simbonile Matokazi, a local government auditor, who told Panorama: “I don’t think this guy had killed his wife.”
Shrien is appealing against South Africa’s extradition demand approved by the British Home Secretary. On April 20 last year, he was compulsorily detained at a secure mental health hospital near his home in Bristol. He has been diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
His lawyer, Charlotte Harris, of Mishcon de Reya, claims: “Shrien is innocent and has always maintained his commitment to clearing his name of all the false allegations and slurs against him.”
Shrien’s family fears that if he falls into the clutches of the South African police, who are determined to prove the country is perfectly safe for foreign tourists, he is done for.
| Fuel frenzy: Cars queue for petrol in the West Country
Britain is witnessing panic at the pumps — and it’s all the fault of inept government PR.
Faced with a possible strike by tanker drivers, the Prime Minister’s office suggested people should stock up on fuel as a “precaution”.
Francis Maude, the Cabinet secretary, also advised motorists to have enough fuel in their vehicles and “maybe a little bit in their garage as well in a jerry can”.
The latter advice verges on the lunatic. Both the Automobile Association and firefighters urged him to withdraw the advice because of the “risk of explosions in garages”.
The result is that long queues have formed at garages all over the country; motorists are coming to blows if they suspect someone is jumping the queue; petrol is running out; and the police are ordering managements to shut down garages to maintain law and order.
David Cameron had better watch out. The British public will forgive serious mismanagement of the economy but not interruption to the supply of petrol.
| Fallen heroes: Argentine surrender
Tomorrow offers a chance to remember an almost forgotten Indian origin soldier — Pradeep Kumar Gandhi.
This is because April 2, 1982, marks the 30th anniversary of the start of the Falklands War when Argentine forces invaded the islands whose sovereignty is disputed with Britain.
Sapper Gandhi (23385786), attached to No. 45 Commando, Royal Engineers, was born in Nairobi on February 24, 1958, came to England as a young boy, enlisted in Wembley, and was killed in the Falklands on May 27, 1982. He was hit by Argentine Gruppo 5 Skyhawk aircraft which strafed the British position in San Carlos.
He was initially buried with his fallen comrades on the Falklands but his remains were later repatriated for a Hindu cremation at Golders Green crematorium.
As Sri Lanka triumph against England in Test cricket, the perfect novel to read is Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew by Shehan Karunatilaka.
I love the sketches in the book, plus the team lists.
“Ambitious, playful and original, Chinaman is a novel about Sri Lanka and cricket...” says the blurb.
The plot involves a retired sportswriter, W.G. Karunasena who is dying but isn’t dead yet. He is trying to track down Pradeep S. Mathew, “a spin bowler who has mysteriously disappeared and who WG considers ‘the greatest cricketer to walk the earth’”.
In parts, the novel reads a little like Wisden.
For example, our hero’s “best one-day bowling figures are 8 for 17 (1987 World Cup qualifier vs Bermuda)”.
The BBC Radio 4 panel game, Just a Minute, which has been going since 1967 with Nicholas Parsons as chairman, recently recorded two episodes at the Comedy Store in Mumbai.
Two popular British panellists, Paul Merton and Marcus Brigstocke, and their Indian counterparts, comedians Cyrus Broacha and Anuvab Pal, had to keep going for one minute “without repetition, hesitation or deviation” on such predictable subjects as “Colonialism under the British Empire” and “It’s just not cricket”.
When it returns in a year’s time, panellists are expected to tackle more relevant issues such as: “The joys of double book keeping”, “Do you know who my father is?”, “You are like my daughter, only” and “Sachin’s 101st century”.