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Forty days after Godhra, he's still searching for wife

Forty days after Godhra, he's still searching for wife

Author: Express News Service
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: April 11, 2002

Satish Mishra still carries burns from the journey aboard the ill-fated S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express on February 27. But the scars he bears are of the 40 agonising days he's spent worrying since about his wife, who went missing within minutes of the carnage.

Nursing his wounds in his oneroom hutment in Ranoli on Vadodara's outskirts, the 30-year-old contract labourer says they had gone to attend a family function in Sultanpura area of Lucknow and were returning by the Sabarmati Express.

When the coach was set afire, he says he managed to jump out of the coach along with his 13-year-old daughter and escaped death. Mangalaben, his 28-year-old wife, was admitted to the Godhra a Civil Hospital and reportedly discharged the same day from the Out Patients Department.

Nobody knows where she went from there, though Mishra has registered complaints with both the Railway police and the a police.

Satish is not a kar sevak, which perhaps explains why no minister or any official representative has come calling on him. But he hasn't given up hope, saying: "We believe she is somewhere because she was treated at the Godhra hospital that day ... She was treated for difficulty in breathing."

The details of the fateful journey are still fresh in his minds, of how he had booked the tickets well in advance anticipating a rush, and how he had told his wife to pack their luggage just before they were about to enter Godhra station as they had to get off at the next one. He remembers some passengers getting off the, coach to have tea and then rushing back, shouting there was a lot of stonepelting.

"We moved to the upper berth and pulled the window shutters down. After almost three halts, there was a lot of smoke in the coach," says Mishra. "I managed to jump out of the coach with my daughter and saved as many people as possible. I kept shouting for my wife but could not hear her."

He was admitted to the hospital at Godhra with 50 per cent bum injuries and for at least four days was not in a position to even move. He was later shifted to a private hospital in the city by his relatives. However, his wife was never seen again. Mishra says the police had come to enquire after he filed complaints but even after 40 days, nobody has been able to provide any information about Mangalaben.

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