Published: 15th August 2019
I tweeted to Modi but no one replied: The 10-year-old who helped avenge 26/11
People praised Devika Rotawan a lot, but no one helped her financially to get along in life. This Independence Day we celebrate her
She helped India avenge 26/11. But we turned our backs on the youngest witness to identify Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab on the stands. Devika Rotawan should have been hailed as a hero for testifying in court against the man who shot her. Instead, people called her 'Kasab ki Beti' and was initially denied entry to her school because they were scared the militants might blow up anyone around her for revenge.
She was 9 years and 11 months old when she was shot. She was hospitalised for one and a half months and underwent six surgeries. "The principal told me that if she admits me there is a chance of bombings and shootouts if the militants seek revenge and she can't risk the lives of other students," said Devika. "But the ABVP members helped me a lot and I was finally admitted. I have completed my secondary education from there and am currently studying in Class XI from Siddharth College of Arts, Science and Commerce, Mumbai."
She lost four years to ailments and family issues, her father, Natwarlal Rotawan, lost his business because people were too scared to work around him — they thought the militants might come back for revenge.
It was not just her school that thought that having them nearby was like playing with a ticking time bomb. “Finding a place to live has also been difficult. People think there will be bomb explosions or terror attacks anywhere we go,” said Devika. “Some people think we did it for publicity, some call me names and associate me with Kasab — ‘Kasab ki Beti’ being the most popular one. They taunted me everywhere I went.”
Family relations were strained once the father daughter-duo decided to turn witnesses. And was completely severed with time. Natwarlal had to wind up his business of dry fruits. They now live off his savings and whatever assistance they get from close family members. "It's been a decade and it's still the three of us standing alone. We have an extended part of our family in Rajasthan and some of my relatives live here in Mumbai but in 10 years we were called to only one 'shaadi', that too recently," added Devika.
People praised her a lot, but no one helped her get along in life. "We are still struggling to survive. We were promised a house. And some support but nothing materialised. I was given Rs 3.26 lakh after more than a year of running around in offices," said Devika, who has been interviewed by innumerable television channels and dailies over the past 10 years and is fluent and confident in her crisp narration. "I had tweeted to Modi sir but he never replied."
Devika loves to study English and History. She aspires to become an IPS officer one day. "I feel justice will not be served till every terrorist on Earth is not neutralised. My sole aim in life is this," concluded Devika, standing strong even after the storm that swept over her and her family. She believes that people pushed them away only because they were scared to death.