|Family mourns Assistant Chief Ticket Inspector Sushil Kumar Sharma, killed in terrorist firing|
Sushil Kumar Sharma
Mumbai: Siddhant Sharma, 17, is angry. His slain father's unsung deed on the night of November 26 has left him with an unanswered question. "Why have they not acknowledged my father's [fearless] act?"
Assistant Chief Ticket Inspector Sushil Kumar Sharma, 48, was killed in the terrorist firing at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus that night.
The Sharma family shares Siddhant's anguish. "As told by his fellow colleagues, Sushil was at his office near the station manager's office when the firing started. He immediately headed to the control room to inform the staff of the firing and alert them about the danger posed to incoming trains. Then, on his return, he was moving towards the injured to offer help. That's when he was shot at," says his elder brother, Mahendra Kumar Sharma.
An official letter from the Central Railway states: "Despite several requests from staff at the control office not to go out, Shri Sharma without caring for his life was rushing towards the Mail Line Concourse. However, before he could help other passengers in saving their lives, two bullets hit him and he lost his life."
One bullet hit his shoulder and the other perforated his lungs. While the incident could have occurred between 9.30 am and 10 p.m., no medical aid arrived till about 2.30 a.m. when the railways resumed their operations, says Mr. Mahendra Kumar. At this time, his family members, who were frenetically calling his phone, finally heard a voice at the other end. However, it belonged to a police officer, who told them of Sushil's demise.
While the railway staff who made announcements over the public address system of the attack received accolades, there have been no words of praise for Sushil, who sought to alert and help others instead of seeking the safety of his office. Concern for others was a quality that won Sushil many a faithful friend and well-wisher. Some of his friends have penned eulogies in his memory. "Smile never left his lips/It sent all woes away," says a poem by a friend. A fond letter written by another friend describes him as a "cheerful" person. "Whenever anybody went to him with any problem, he used to solve it in a jiffy."
Mr. Mahendra Kumar realised the extent of his brother's popularity when he came to Mumbai from Gwalior. "On November 28 when we came here, autorickshaws in Kalyan [where Sushil's home is situated] did not charge us or any of our relatives visiting us. Neither did the newspaper vendor round the corner. And for days, the local tea-seller would come home to serve tea for visitors for free."
Yadavendra Kumar Pandey, a cousin of Sushil's, recounts: "I wanted to send a parcel after this incident. It weighed 132 kg. Eight porters lifted it. I happened to mention Sushil. Then I do not know what transpired among them, but none accepted any money!" For his family, the ever-helpful Sushil was the backbone. Emotion gives way as Ragini Sharma, his wife, begins to speak of him. "He was caring, soft-hearted," she says, unable to hold back her tears. "He used to say, 'Ragini, everyone lives for oneself. One should live for others."
In their own quiet way, Sushil's two sons are trying to cope with their pain. Siddhant is preparing for the IIT entrance test.
In fact, on November 26, Sushil had gone to work only to get the IIT test form. He would have stayed home otherwise for it was his younger son Aditya's 12th birthday.
Aditya's easy and childlike ways only belie the sorrow within. "From the way he keeps flitting about, I know what he is going through. When I ask him, 'do you think of papa,' he gets upset and says, 'why do you keep asking me that?' Like us adults, he cannot express what he is feeling," says Ms. Ragini.
The Sharmas are currently locked in paperwork over compensation. Says Mr. Mahendra Kumar, "We have still not received the Rs. 3 lakh ex-gratia from Central Railway. Neither have we heard anything about the Railway Minister's compensation. Only the State government amount has come in."
The family is also planning to seek compensation for those security officers who fought the terrorists. "We feel that even civilians who went outside the bounds of their duty to help should be considered for this. As Sushil did. So, we will write to the authorities. However, money is not our concern. We want him to get the recognition due to him. His act was a step towards countering terrorist activity," reasons Mr. Mahendra Kumar.