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Updated: November 27, 2012 00:30 IST

Four-legged survivors of 26/11

Lyla Bavadam
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A victim of the senseless attack by terrorists, this one lives to tell the tale of human kindness. Photo: Lyla Bavadam
A victim of the senseless attack by terrorists, this one lives to tell the tale of human kindness. Photo: Lyla Bavadam

Sheru was among the luckier victims; more than 150 pigeons died in the explosions

From the crowded platforms of a train terminus to the tree-filled, shady environs of a welfare organisation — the transition for 13-year-old Sheru was drastic in more ways than one. Four years ago on 26/11, during the wild shooting spree by Ajmal Kasab and his fellow terrorist at CST, Sheru was hit by a bullet. He crawled to a safe place near the parcel office and remained there quietly. If it had not been for some railway workers, it may have been his last resting place.

Hours after the killing spree, Shripad Naik, a photojournalist with the Marathi daily Mahanagar, revisited the station around midnight. Recounting the moment for The Hindu, he said, “Some workers told me a dog had been shot. They led me to a place under some stairs. He was in a bad shape … covered with blood, confused and frightened. I talked to him, lifted him with the help of others. Some commandos outside were very helpful. They summoned an ambulance that took him to the SPCA.”

Secretary of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals J.C. Khanna recalls Sheru’s arrival. “He was bleeding profusely and was in shock. An X-ray showed he had a lacerated wound on his left shoulder blade. The bullet had torn through the muscle and ripped it apart but he was lucky. If it had lodged itself in or gone deeper he would not have survived.”

It took six months in the ICU for Sheru’s wound to heal. The extent of damage meant that stitching the wound was not possible. So it was dressed every day and left to heal on its own. Meanwhile, Sheru was kept sedated so as not to stress the area.

There were other animal victims too during those three dark days. The two Labradors, who were on security duty at the Taj Hotel, were shot dead by the terrorists. Moti, a street dog near Nariman House, went into depression because of the fierce fighting she was witness to and had to be treated by an NGO, The Welfare of Stray Dogs.

Another street dog, Kalu, was shot dead by Kasab and his colleague near the Vidhan Sabha. An eye witness told an animal NGO that the police van the terrorists had commandeered was making an odd sound (possibly because its tyres had been shot). Kalu barked and chased the van and was shot dead. Shortly afterwards, the terrorists ditched the van and hijacked a car.

More than 150 pigeons died because of the explosions.

Sheru was among the luckier animal victims. Now he is as good as new. His secret admirer, a Parsi woman who doesn’t want her name revealed, bears his expenses. “He is a friendly fellow,” says Lt. Col. (Dr.) Khanna, “He has a brave heart. That’s why I named him Sheru — ek sher dilwale aadmi — he is like a lion-hearted man,” he adds.

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