26th November 2008. Mumbai shook up to a deadly terrorist attack, prepared and undertaken by ten members of Lashkar-E-Taiba. The attack lasted for three days and consisted of a total of 12 ranges of shooting and bombing. Amid many lives lost, many narrowly escaped and numerous unforgettable scars, Mumbai has moved back to life over the course of time. But 19-year-old Devika Natwarlal Rotawan, the witness who identified primary culprit Ajmal Kasab, remembers what it put her through.
“I was called Kasab ki beti (Kasab’s daughter). I used to run home crying because the girls used to tease me and did not want to play with me,” recalled Devika, while talking to HT. She was then a nine-year-old girl who was shot in her leg during the shooting at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and took a couple of months to recover. She was produced at the court by public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam. But this was calling in troubles. Her classmates started isolating her, fearing adverse effects of associating with someone who was identifying a terrorist. There was always fear of more harm.
At the same time, Devika and her family were receiving threat calls on a regular basis, to which they did not surrender.
“But that did not scare us a bit…I was depressed but that did not break me,” Devika added.
She eventually had to leave her old school but had a hard time enrolling into new one as a number of them turned her down.
Devika is now preparing for the mid-term examination of 11th standard and wants to become an IPS officer.
“I knew he deserved to die but I think the government should take a stern step towards eliminating terrorism. I want to be the one to bring peace in the society. Kasab was just a small fish. I want to clean the entire ocean. Instead of killing a terrorist, terrorism should be uprooted. “ says the teenager who witnessed a destructive and unfortunate incident, only to come out stronger.
We take a bow to Devika’s determination and wish her aspirations come true.