A daily-wage earner’s end

Taklal Mandal

Taklal Mandal  

Anupama Katakam

From age 16, Prakash Mandal slogged in Mumbai to keep his family afloat

Mumbai: It had been difficult getting work at construction sites in Mumbai, as many projects had slowed down. So daily-wage construction workers Prakash Janav Mandal, his cousin Taklal Mandal and four others had taken on some work in Chennai.

They were at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) near Platform 14 where the Chennai Mail was expected, when they saw two men running and firing at people indiscriminately with machine guns.

“My cousin’s back was towards them and a bullet hit his head from behind. I remember he fell. We thought he may be still alive but in the chaos we started running. I myself was bruised by a bullet but all we could think of was running and getting out of the station,” said Taklal Mandal, describing the scene and how his cousin Prakash Mandal died in the November 26, 2008 terror strike in Mumbai.

Did not make it

“Later when we got out and were told what had happened, we realised Prakash must not have made it. We identified his body early in the morning at St.George’s Hospital.”

Prakash Mandal was among the 56 people who died at the CST. The station had the largest number of casualties in the terror strike.

Thirty-two-year-old Mandal was a daily-wage construction worker who lived with six others in a one-room tenement in the sprawling Dharavi slum in Mumbai.

His wife and daughter live in Nagerkeswari village in Jharkhand.

Mandal had been working and living in Mumbai since age 16, said his cousin Taklal. “He has three younger brothers and was the main breadwinner of the family. Through his earnings in Mumbai, Prakash had educated all his brothers and was very proud of it,” said Taklal.

“We earn hardly Rs.2,000 a month. Of that, Rs.500 goes as rent. There is not much left to send home after our daily expenses. Yet Prakash always managed to send something home.”

Can’t understand

Taklal says for days after the incident they kept talking about what had happened. He says he cannot understand it. “Who are these people who hurt us poor and innocent people? We have not done anything to anyone.”

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