26/11 terror attack: One of youngest survivors moves HC seeking house

Mumbai: Devika Rotawan, who as a nine-year-old witnessed first hand the November 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai, has moved the Bombay High Court seeking a house from the government.

This is the second time that Rotawan, now 23 years old, has approached the court.

In 2020, she had filed a similar petition and in October that year the high court directed the Maharashtra government to consider her plea.

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After the state government rejected her application, she moved the court again.

On Thursday, additional government pleader Jyoti Chavan, the Maharashtra government lawyer, told a division bench of Justices S V Gangapurwala and M S Karnik that following the court’s October 2020 order, a compensation of Rs 13.26 lakh was paid to Rotawan on compassionate grounds.

Advocate R Bubna, appearing for the Union government, said Rotawan was given compensation of Rs 10 lakh in the aftermath of the attacks as per the central government policy.

She can not demand anything more as a matter of right, the lawyer added.

As no lawyer was present for Rotawan on Thursday, the bench adjourned the hearing to October 12.

Rotawan, then nine years old, was at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) along with her father and brother when Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab and his associate attacked the sprawling railway station in south Mumbai on November 26, 2008.

A total of ten terrorists of Lashkar-e-Taiba, who landed in Mumbai by sea route, attacked various locations in the city, causing mayhem.

During the trial, Rotawan appeared before the court and identified Kasab as one of the attackers. Kasab, the lone terrorist to be captured alive, was convicted and hanged.

In her plea before the High Court filed through advocate Kunickaa Sadanand, Rotawan sought compensation under a central government policy of 2017.

But advocate Bubna said it was not applicable retrospectively.

The petition said that during the terror attack, Rotawan suffered a bullet injury in her leg while her father and brother too were injured.

Because of multiple health issues, her father and brother can not earn a livelihood, it said.

Rotawan and her family are living in penury and would be rendered homeless too as they can pay the rent for their present house, it said.

Rotawan recently enrolled for a degree course at Chetna College in Bandra, the petition informed.

After the 26/11 attack, several Central and state government officials visited her house and assured that accommodation will be provided to them under the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) quota, it said.

The officials also promised to make adequate arrangements for her education and provide monetary assistance for her and her family’s medical treatment, the petition claimed.

But she did not receive any help, it said.

As many as 166 people, including 18 security personnel, were killed in the terrorist attack which began on the night of November 26, 2008, and ended after 60 hours.

Nine of the terrorists were killed by the security forces. Ajmal Kasab was hanged four years later on November 21, 2012.

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