Pakistani couple visit graves of their five children

October 30th, 2008 - 8:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Panipat (Haryana), Oct 30 (IANS) Tears welled up in Rana Shaukat Ali’s eyes as the bus in which he was travelling screeched to a halt at Diwana station. One and a half years ago, it was there that an explosion killed five of the six children of this Pakistani trader.”Only god knows how I have been coping with my grief, trying to shield what remains of my family from it,” Ali told IANS. His children were among the 63 people killed in the Feb 18, 2007, blasts on the Samjhauta Express train linking India and Pakistan.

“I saw the Diwana station from the bus and could not help but picture the blazing train trapping my beloved children.” They were aged between 6 and 16 years.

Ali, his wife Ruksana Akhtar and the only surviving daughter Aqsa arrived from Delhi in Panipat Thursday afternoon for a prayer at the graves of their five dead children. Panipat is 90 km away from Delhi.

“Who would think that a visit to our relatives would turn into a nightmare one would never wake up from!” cried Ruksana. That day the family was travelling to Faisalabad, their hometown, after visiting relatives in Delhi and Ghaziabad when two deafening explosions hit the train.

Ali was back in India this week with a pregnant Ruksana and Aqsa to attend a multi-faith prayer meet for victims of terror blasts in the capital Wednesday.

When asked what were his hopes for his young daughter who survived the blasts that day, he said he wanted her to be well educated and bestowed with love throughout her life.

But he regretted that the explosion had left him without an heir.

“Aqsa will be married into another family once she grows up and then my family and business will have no heir. I just pray that the child we are expecting is a boy to carry on our family name,” said Ali, who owns a shop at his hometown.

Lawyer Malik Momin and Prem, a relative of Ali’s neighbour in Pakistan, who helped the Ali family through the ordeal of identifiying and burying their dead children after the blast were at the station to welcome them ‘as family’.

“The family’s loss cannot be compensated for by a few lakh rupees. I have shared a long standing relationship with the family - I see them as my own family. I shared their grief and sorrow then and am here for them now,” Momin averred.

Momin said the “whole world is your home and all people irrespective of religion or borders are family. Helping them through trying times is what anyone would do for humanity”.

Recriprocated Ali: “We were welcomed here by our family - they may not be blood relatives but they are our family.”

The family had visited Panipat earlier this year for a memorial function to mark the first anniversary of the blast.

Said Ruksana: “Victim’s families are united by the same plight each time terror attacks claim innocent lives. We have come here for praying for peace for our children - and for strength and peace for other families who lost their innocent loved ones.”

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