Family wiped out, she wants to be policewoman (Three years after pre-Diwali blasts)

October 28th, 2008 - 1:51 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 28 (IANS) She once wanted to be a dancer but now 12-year-old Manisha Michael aspires to be a police officer who can nab terrorists. For it was a terror blast in the Indian capital three years ago, right before Diwali, that wiped out her father, mother and brother.”I want to become an Indian Police Service officer so that I can understand what terrorism is and how people become terrorists. I will also arrest terrorists who have destroyed the lives of innocent people,” Manisha told IANS.

The Class 6 student lives with her grandparents in a flat at Dilshad Garden in northeast Delhi. Little does she know that in the absence of the main breadwinner - her father Michael - life has become difficult for the family.

Manisha’s father, mother Sunita and brother Alvin were shopping in the Sarojini Nagar market when a blast - one of three that ripped through the national capital Oct 29, 2005, killing at least 65 people - snuffed out their lives.

She still finds solace in music and Kathak dance. She also spends a lot of time with her dog and her birds.

“I have more than 20 birds,” she said. Her grandparents say she is so attached to animals that whenever she goes out she starts playing with all the street dogs - and once even wanted to adopt an elephant.

But those are simple pleasures and a girl her age scarcely knows the problems staring the family in the face.

“We have put the compensation of Rs.750,000 that we received for the death of Sunita and Alvin as fixed deposit in the bank for Manisha. But there are a lot of expenses for which money is needed. The government didn’t give us compensation for Michael as his body was never found,” said Manisha’s grandfather Bhagwan Dass, a retired employee of Indian Airlines.

The family is now surviving on the interest earned on the money that Bhagwan Dass received after retiring from his job and deposited in a bank.

Manisha’s grandmother Saleena Dass accused the government of insensitivity.

“I went to (Chief Minister) Sheila Dikshit’s office but she kept me waiting outside for over four hours, after which she just acknowledged my grievance letter and didn’t even talk to me. But so far no one has contacted me - this is despicable!” said Saleena Dass.

“It’s very difficult to live like this. The government and politicians are very insensitive and are just concerned with their votes. We have decided to never ever vote again for any politician,” she said.

She, however, was thankful to All-India Anti-Terrorist Front chief M.S. Bitta and Manisha’s school principal who waived off the child’s school fees.

“The only person who has cared for our family in the last three years is M.S. Bitta. He visited us several times and has helped us in every possible manner,” she added.

Saleena said, “I don’t have any hope with politicians. They are an insensitive, ignorant and selfish lot.”

The grandparents are now worried for Manisha’s future.

Saleena said: “We are just worried what will happen if we die tomorrow. Who will take care of Manisha? Though she doesn’t cry much, whenever she remembers her parents she just turns quiet.”

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