26/11 Mumbai attacks’ key witness to be rendered homeless

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Devika Rotawan, who at 10 was the youngest witness to identify terrorist Ajmal Kasab in the trial court in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks case, and her family are on the verge of being rendered homeless even as they await the state government’s response to a Bombay high court (HC) order for considering her plea for providing them a house

By Megha Sood

PUBLISHED ON MAY 05, 2021 01:16 AM IST

Devika Rotawan, who at 10 was the youngest witness to identify terrorist Ajmal Kasab in the trial court in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks case, and her family are on the verge of being rendered homeless even as they await the state government’s response to a Bombay high court (HC) order for considering her plea for providing them a house.

She said their landlord has asked them to vacate their house by May 10 amid the Covid-19 pandemic as he needs to move in. She said the lockdown imposed to check the second Covid-19 wave has made it impossible for them to look for another house and to shift at such short notice.

“Last year, too, I was short on rent money and had to ask for help from acquaintances. The house owner is ready to waive the rent of three months which adds up to 30,000 but where will I go,” she said.

Rotawan’s father does odd jobs and the family does not have any particular regular source of income. Rotawan’s mother had died long before the 26/11 attacks. Rotawan gave her final exams two days ago.

Rotawan said they have nowhere to go and will be forced to live on a street or in front of chief minister Uddhav Thackeray’s house if they are forced to vacate their house.

HC had last August ordered the government to decide on Rotawan’s plea for allotment of a house on compassionate grounds. Rotawan also sought HC directions to the government to fund her education. In October, the family sent documents to the office of the chief secretary following the HC order. They have since been waiting to hear from the state.

In a tweet, Rotawan’s lawyer, Utsav Bains, urged minister Aaditya Thackeray to help the family.

Bains said the family is facing a difficult situation due to the apathy of the Maharashtra government. “Despite a Bombay high court order directing it to consider her request on compassionate grounds, it is yet to make a decision. It is very unfortunate to see a terror attack eyewitness suffer so much due to government indifference. We will move the Bombay high court again,” said Bains.

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