Beacons of hope in Ahmedabad’s dark days of terror

July 28th, 2008 - 5:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Ahmedabad, July 28 (IANS) Just like the proverbial silver lining behind every dark cloud are the stories of valour and compassion that come to the fore with every terror attack. And Ahmedabad was no different in the many instances of those who helped out without regard to life or limb as one bomb after another exploded with relentless regularity two evenings ago. Dinesh Kumar, Ranjit Singh, Vishnu Thakore, Kamlesh Tank, Bhavesh Kabir, Paresh Panchal or Mukesh Lalani… just some names in the list of at least 50 dead and more than 200 injured when 21 blasts tore through the peace of this Gujarat city Saturday evening.

Some of them died even as they rushed to help or commiserate after the news of the first blasts came.

Their acts of goodness stood out like beacons of hope through the dark days following the terror strike.

Mukesh Lalani, 52, was one who lived to tell the tale. He had rushed to help the injured at the Civil Hospital when a bomb exploded just behind him and he was seriously wounded himself.

Two days later, the 52-year-old Lalani recounted with gratitude Monday: “I tried to help when the ambulance entered; god seems to have repaid my kindness.”

“I had gone to the Civil Hospital where a friend was being discharged after being hurt in an accident. I had a word with him and was leaving a little while later when I saw an ambulance entering the hospital premises. It came to a screeching halt. On impulse, I decided to help even as a couple of paramedics approached the rear door,” Lalani told IANS.

That’s when all hell broke loose.

“There were only the injured all around me. And then, even as I was helping a stretcher out of an ambulance there was a loud explosion behind my back. I dived trying to reach under the ambulance even as the stretcher fell with a thud.”

It will be some time before Lalani, who suffered serious shrapnel injury, walks again. But he at least managed to escape without any serious injuries to his chest or head.

Twenty-year-old Bhavesh Kabir ran towards the Civil Hospital — in what is perhaps a first, the bomb at the Civil Hospital exploded just as injured from earlier blasts were being brought in — as soon as he heard about the injured coming in.

Just as he was getting a trolley, a bomb exploded leaving Kabir with severe burns — and his mother weeping helplessly.

“I only came to help, why this happen to me,” he was quoted as murmuring from his hospital bed.

They were the luckier ones.

Paresh Patil, 38, went to the Civil Hospital to donate blood on hearing about blasts but never came back. His body was found Sunday morning but his 12-year-old son and 10-year-old were still waiting in hope.

As was perhaps the family of Dinesh Kumar Jain who was also caught in the blast in the hospital just as he was trying to help move the injured out of the ambulance. He was killed and his three friends were reportedly seriously injured.

Ranjit Singh, Vishnu Thakore and Kamlesh Tank, who along with Dinesh Kumar, were at the forefront when Gujarat was struck by a quake, and then the riots of 2002 a year later, are in hospital while their friend lies dead.

As Ahmedabad counts its dead and looks beyond, they are the ones who will help in the task of rebuilding lives shattered by terrorism.

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