They bought their own shroud

July 29th, 2008 - 12:23 pm ICT by IANS  

By Rafat Quadri
Ahmedabad, July 29 (IANS) They had bought white cloth to wrap bodies. But in a savage irony, Jaikishenbhai Chandubhai Patel, 51 and Jashwantbhai Ranchhodbhai Patel, 60, were wrapped in the same shroud when they were killed as a bomb exploded while they were helping the injured at the Civil Hospital here. The story of the two friends, just one of the many tales of courage that have come to light after 21 blasts on Saturday evening killed at least 50 and injured 200, is the stuff that films are made of.

The popular do-gooders of the city had been at it since 1969, offering succour and help when communal riots broke out. Then there was a major fire at the Neelkanth Mahadev temple in the early 1980s, the anti-reservation and communal riots of 1985, a plane crash in 1989, the killer earthquake of 2001 and the communal riots of 2002, recounts a broken Manharbhari, Jaikishenbhai’s elder brother.

On Saturday, their luck ran out.

The two, both members of an informal help group, rushed to the Civil Hospital at 7.15 p.m. with other young workers on hearing of the serial explosions. About half-an-hour later, as they were helping the injured at the Civil Hospital Trauma Centre, a blast went off.

It was so powerful that the 15 to 20 vehicles in the parking lot a couple of yards away were blown apart.

The bodies of both friends were badly mutilated.

“I cannot tell you how I feel. Both Jaikishenbhai and Jashwantbhai had taught the local youths to help others and now both of them are no more with us. But our noble work to help the injured will continue,” says Manharbhai.

On hearing the news of the blasts, they purchased 28 metres of white cloth to wrap bodies in if the need arose. But fate willed otherwise. Their own bodies were wrapped in the sheet brought by them!

The day had started off innocuously enough.

While Jashwantbhai, an expert mechanic, was busy at his garage in the locality of Asarwa, Jaikishenbhai was swimming in the local pool. On hearing of the terror attack, Jashwantbhai put the shutters down in his garage and rushed to the trauma centre to find that Jaikishenbhai was already there.

They got right down to what they had done so many times - lending a helping hand. For the last time.

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