Mumbai Bombings

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Divine Intervention Saves Family

by Deepa Suryanarayan

15 July 2006: Mumbai, India

Four Krishna devotees were in three of the coaches where the bombs went off. All escaped with minor injuries.

The Rathis cannot believe their luck. Four members of the family were in the coaches, on three different trains, where bombs exploded on Tuesday evening. All of them survived.

Sitaram Rathi, 59, who runs a textile business at Kalbadevi, took the 5:54 pm Borivli semi-fast from Churchgate. He was standing inside the first-class compartment in which the blast occurred at Mahim.

“I got trapped under the bodies and had to wait for people to help me out,” said Rathi, who still can’t hear properly as his eardrums were damaged.

Rathi was admitted to Hinduja hospital, from where he called his wife Varsha.

Rathi’s eldest son Prashant, 28, a chartered accountant, boarded the 6:04pm Borivli slow at Lower Parel. “I found a place to sit, said my prayers, and fell asleep. A piercing sound woke me up at Khar station. A bomb had exploded inside my compartment,” said Prashant, an ISKCON member. “I felt dizzy. All around me were dead people and people whose limbs were blown off,” he said, shuddering at the recollection.

Prashant sustained injuries on his back. “I was asleep and so was bent forward. Had I been awake and sitting upright, the injuries could have been severe.”

Prashant’s siblings Leena, 24, and Satish, 21, had boarded the 5:50pm Borivli fast at Churchgate.

“The bomb in our coach went off at Bandra. We immediately called up our mother and told her that we were safe,” said Leena, who works with Hindustan Lever.

The Rathis are a deeply religious family. They say it is God’s will that they survived. “It was Lord Krishna who came to our rescue,” said Prashant.

'I Saw Bodies Flying...'

by Harish Matabonu

13 July 2006: Mumbai, India

There were more than 10 dead bodies inside the compartment - Citizen Journalist and devotee Harish Matabonu was on the Borivali Fast when the blast occurred.

I was one compartment ahead of the one that was blasted.

Somehow I was late for office and so I caught the 5:58 pm Borivali Fast from Grant Road station. I had 4 rounds left (Japa Mala - beads that I chant my rounds on). I use to travel in 1st class but lately I had realised that the 1st class is more crowded than the second class compartment.

So last week when I renewed my Railway pass I took second class season ticket for 3 months. (If I would have taken 1st class pass I would have been in the same compartment where the bomb blasted).

I was chanting my rounds and some how managed to get a place to stand near the door.

By the time the train reached Bandra Station I finished my 4 rounds. I kept my bead bag inside my Office Bag and was singing the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra. I was singing and practicing the new tune which I had heard from Jay Sacinandan prabhu. Few minutes when the train left the Bandra Platform I heard a huge sound.

In our childhood we use to blast rassi bomb (Fire Cracker). When we use to be very close to the bomb it use to hurt our ears. Although I was 1 compartment far from the blast the sound was soo huge that for a moment I could not think and realize what sound that could be and I immediately saw behind (since I was standing at the edge of the door)

The scene was terrible. I saw three people flying in the air and falling on the tracks. I was shocked. I immediately screamed and told the people sitting inside to pull the chain since there is a bomb blast first they did not understand and when other people also started screaming they pulled the chain. Before even the train could stop.. people started pushing me -- I jumped from the train (fortunately it was running very slow by then). When I turned behind I saw the 1st class compartment was ripped apart and few people were getting down with blood all over their face and body.

I was confused as to what to do, I was shivering and my whole body was trembling -- I immediately called up 100 (Police Helpline) I informed the police who attended the call, since this was the first bomb that exploded he was shocked when I said that there is a bomb blast.

I described him the exact location and place and the severity and told him to inform the railways to stop all trains -- the idiot police men replied back saying.. -- railway mein phone karo -- (you call up railway and inform them) I told I don't have their number. He gave me a 7 digit number. I knew it would be a wrong number because all local numbers in Mumbai are 8 digits. However I tried calling railways but it did not get through. I hung up.

I was missing my camera cell phone which I lost few weeks back in the same local trains. I wanted to click pictures and take video of the entire scene. However I realized that it is foolishness to think in such a situation to take pics. I was confused as to what to do.

There were many things coming in my mind -- I was thinking of forgetting everything and going to office as Tuesdays is the busiest days for me as I have to attend the Leadership meetings and send the reports to VP's and AVP's of my company as well as our Clients (DELL, Earthlink etc.)

My mind was running faster than I could ever remember. I immediately dropped the plan to go to office as the best way to go to office is trains and by this bomb blast I realized that all trains might have been halted and roads will become Jammed with traffic.

Since the entire scene was chaotic. It was very difficult to see who is injured and who is not. When I went near the compartment I saw the impact of the blast. There were more than 10 dead bodies inside the compartment.

I saw one person whose hand was ripped apart and only his last finger was hanging and he was crying for help with his other hand. I saw other person who was hanging between the ripped iron sheets of the train and the tracks. I had never seen such a scene.

I saw one person with his elbow ripped open and his raw bone was visible with his veins hanging. I saw much more grave injuries which I think I should not mention in this email.

After seeing these I immediately prayed that there should not be any devotee inside this compartment. I started looking everywhere to see if there is any help coming from anywhere.

I saw people passing water bottles to the injured .. when I saw them doing that, I remembered my recently visited Jagannath Puri Rath yatra where approx 1 million people come and me and some of my devotee friends were helping everyone to pass water bottles to all devotees who were thirsty. I immediately decided to do that service again and I started asking everyone for water and passed to people who were injured.

After doing this for few minutes I saw that there were hundreds of people who were just watching and doing nothing. Now when I think of that I realized that there were 4 categories of people.

1. People who realized that it's a bomb blast and just ran away from the scene.

2. People who were just shocked to see that they were traveling in the same train in which the blast happened and were standing there watching dumb founded.

3. People who were phoning their relatives and near and dear ones and taking pictures and videos from their camera phones.

4. People who were helping others removing the bodies from the compartment.

I went through all four phases. I realized that this is the right time for me to help someone and I went near the compartment again. There were some people stuck between the iron sheets of the train and the tracks so we tried to pull apart the iron sheet of the compartment so that people who were stuck can come out. There were some brave people who entered the compartment and were pushing bodies outside. One person from inside handed me a huge Iron rod -- I immediately took that and asked someone to throw it aside but then one person said that we can use it to support the iron sheet when we pull it out. So then we used that rod to support the ripped iron sheets (you can see the same photo of the ripped iron sheet of the compartment being supported by a iron rod in front of many news paper)

When we pulled the iron sheet one body just fell on the ground and we realized that it was a dead body so no one touched it. We wanted to save the people who were at least half alive or injured.

Then few brave people went inside and got a persons body which was alive but his hand was ripped apart -- I saw that 4 people were lifting that body and they were asking someone to help. I felt like going and helping but when I saw his hand I was afraid to touch that body. I really appreciate the bravery of the people who were helping that person. Later on I saw one person who was lying on the compartment and was looking towards me and asking for help and seeing that his entire body was naked and burnt I turned my face away. I knew that he was about to die -- but even then I did not help him. I was afraid !!

I then decided to help at least people who can walk a little and take them to hospital. By this time many local people from surrounding areas came and were helping. I saw a young boy who came near the compartment door. Some people helped him to get down and then I immediately went to him and I decided that I will take him to hospital. His entire face was blackened and his sports shoes was full of blood. He was wearing black t-shirt (at least that's what It looked like) and he had worn blue denim jeans but the front portion of his jeans had disappeared (burnt in the blast). He could not walk properly and he wanted to sit right there on the tracks. I told him that there is no way we can sit on the tracks and he need to go to the hospital.

I supported this boy and was walking on the tracks with him -- he could not walk properly but still I encouraged him .. I told him that he should thank god and should chant Hare Krishna. When I said that he immediately looked at my face. I told him just chant the names of the lord. Then I asked him what was his name -- He told Pankaj.

I told Pankaj that he is very fortunate and he did not say anything. I told him again to chant the names of the lord. Then he said that he cannot hear anything. Then I realized that all the people in that compartment might have gone deaf with the sound.

I started asking people to guide me to a hospital and they said that I should take Pankaj to BABA Hospital. As there were hundreds of people on the way I screamed as much as I could to make way and then we somehow came out of the tracks and near the road. There were people who were calling Auto Rickshaws (3 wheelers) I got one of the rickshaw and me and Pankaj sat inside. Then I saw few people were carrying a body and asking me to vacate the rickshaw and then I saw the body which they were holding. It was the same body whose right hand's last finger was left and everything else was missing.

I vacated the rickshaw, then I got another rickshaw and I sat besides Pankaj. Just then another person with this head covered with blood asked me for a seat. I immediately got out and sat next to the rickshaw driver. The rickshaw driver could not take a U-turn as there were hundreds of people blocking it somehow he did it. It started raining heavily. I prayed Thank GOD ! I am inside this vehicle. ( however I was getting wet because half my body was out of the vehicle.)

The rickshaw driver took us as fast as he could to BABA Hospital. When we reached there the scene was worst than I thought. BABA is a Municipal Hospital. I need not explain how municipal hospitals are in INDIA. There were people sitting with head injuries and blood all over their body and no one to attend. There were very few doctors. Since it was the nearest hospital all the injured people were coming here. I saw the same person with his last finger being taken inside by 4 people.

When I took Pankaj and the other person inside I realized that we did not have a place to sit. So we came out and sat on the stair case.

I immediately decided that I will take them to Lilavati Hospital (It is very renowned hospital and many film stars get admitted here) I told Pankaj that I will take him to Lilavati and he said yes ! the other person vanished somewhere.

I took pankaj and caught a rickshaw again and told the driver to take us to Lilavati. In 10 minutes we reached Lilavati (1 second was like hours.. I could realize the importance of time). When we reached Lilavati.. we were the first to reach there so the police started asking me "Kai Jhala ani Kuthe challed -- (what happened and where are you going)". I told we are Bomb Blast patients and we want to go to casualty ward.

He was surprised -- but when he saw Pankaj he did not ask me anything and showed us the path. As soon as I opened the door of Casualty ward everything seemed perfect they had enough beds, doctors and nurses. They immediately took care of Pankaj.

Pankaj had given me his cell phone and asked me to call up his DAD -- I asked pankaj are you feeling ok and he said his EAR is bleeding and his thighs were paining.

I started calling up Pankaja's dad and friends. I was trying hard but all the phones were jammed and network not reachable.

After sometime one more person came in lilavati with his whole body stained with blood and his hands covered with a handkerchief and blood dripping from the cloth.

He saw me and we laid him on the next bed and he told that his name is Chintan Gandhi and gave me his cell phone and asked me to call his parents. I was trying to call pankaj and chintana's relatives and parents. I could not get through. I myself was feeling weak by now.

I immediately called up Amit Hingorani (son of producer -- Arjun Hingorani) as he stays very close to Lilavati Hospital.

He immediately came rushing thinking that I am injured but when he saw me he was happy then I told him everything.

I wanted someone to emotionally support me. I hugged him and then I saw Doctor Gurucharan. I did not knew that he practices in Lilavati Hospital. I got energy after seeing 2 devotees with me.

Since Amit Hingorani's mother is sick and alone at home I told that he should go home again.

He left only after convincing me to come to his home after I complete my formalities in the hospital.

There was one more unattended patient who was completely bleeding and could not hear anything.

He too wanted me to help contact his relatives and gave his mobile. His name was Vivek.

I waited for the next few hours in the hospital. Slowly the news came that there are around seven bomb blasts and as I was waiting for any of the relatives of Pankaj, Chintan and Vivek.

Slowly one by one the relatives came. I handed them their childs mobile, Gold chains and wallet which were handed to me by the doctors to take care.

First person I met was Chintans dad. Since I had spoken to him on phone .. he knew my name and when he saw me he was literally crying with tears flowing from his eyes and he was saying thank you ! thank you !

I took him to Chintan, and by now Chintan had a plaster on his left hand and the nurse was cleaning his face. He was shivering like a leaf. I met chintans mom and many of his aunty's and uncles.. they were all crying and thanking me but I just told them that its lords mercy.

Pankaj was stripped naked and was covered with blankets as his clothes were burnt. I gave the burnt clothes and his blood soaked shoes to his dad. Slowly his mom came and when one of panka's friend told her mom that I got Pankaj to the hospital she cried and she said "aap mere liye bhagawan ho" You are God for me. I immediately said no! and tears started flowing from my eyes.

Seeing their emotions I could not contain myself thinking of all the people who might have lost their fathers, husbands, brothers, friends, sons and employees.

Vivek's relative also came and he too was very grateful to me for helping and he realized that I am from Hare Krishna as I was wearing Kanthi Mala (neck beads) and I loudly said yes I am from Hare Krishna.

(I wanted all the people around me Chintana's mom/dad, relatives. Pankaja's mom/dad, relatives and friends and Viveka's relatives and friends to know that I am from ISKCON -- Hare Krishna)

They all asked me for my number and I gave them my card.

I met Gurucharan and left the scene. I went to Amit Hingorani home and he and his mom were waiting for me. Although her mom was sick she gave me nice hot prasad and Amit Hingorani gave me his T-shirt and his favorite shorts to wear and took me to his room.

It was 23:00 hrs by now we immediately lied down after arguing as to who will sleep on the bed and who will sleep on the floor. Naturally Amit Hingorani literally forced me to sleep on the bed but I forced him and I slept on the floor in front of his beautiful home deities (Sri Sri Radha Rasbihari). I closed my eyes and the entire episode, the blast sound, the right hand, the burnt faces etc.. was flashing in my mind. I could not sleep.

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