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Meet some of Mumbai's saviours

July 14, 2005
Often, Mumbai loves to hate its slum-dwellers -- bulldozers raze their shanties, and protests are met with stern police action.

But when seven bombs ripped through seven trains on Terror Tuesday, killing close to 200 people and injuring hundreds of more, it was these slum-dwellers living near the railway tracks who were the first to reach the victims, and help them.

Meet some of the ordinary people without whose extraordinary acts the death toll in the latest terrorist attacks on India's financial capital would have been much, much higher.

Dharmendra Maruti Chavan (left) is a vegetable vendor who lives on the pavement outside Jogeshwari station in northwest Mumbai. He is also the president of the Ambedkar Nagar Nagar Bhatkyavimukth Gosavi Samaj, a local organisation. Like many others, when he first heard the sound of the explosion, he thought it was an accident.

"When I saw people running away I realised that it was something else. I live near the tracks, so I went there to see what was happening. Five boys who live on this pavement came with me," he says.

"We first carried the injured to the road. We put them in rickshaws and other vehicles and sent them to hospital. The police came later," he continues.

And Terror Tuesday has left him, like all of Mumbai, shaken

"Our children are so scared that they still don't cross the road. They saw so many corpses being carried this way..."

Dharma Vaman Chavan (centre) too sells vegetables for a living. He too lives on the pavement outside Jogeshwari station. He too rushed to help.

"I carried a man out, who had lost an arm and a leg. He had a head wound too. He died in my arms," he says.

"I put him in the police van. Others who were injured, we put them in rickshaws, vans and cars. My clothes were soaked in blood. We did not go with the victims to the hospital as there would not be no one here to help," he adds.

Dhamresh Samraj Chavan (right), another vegetable vendor who was among the rescuers, says, "Most of us did not eat that night. We were so shocked. Even television cameramen were scared to enter the compartments as there were dead bodies inside. We brought the bodies out."

Text: A Ganesh Nadar | Photographs: Rajesh Karkera
Also read: Special: A black day for the Western Railway family


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