Devika Rotawan, the then nine-year-old girl who identified terrorist Ajmal Kasab in court after she was shot by the gunman during the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, faces severe financial distress and needs immediate assistance, Maharashtra MLA Zeeshan Siddique said Monday afternoon.
Mr Siddique, who visited Ms Rotawan, now 20 years old, at her cramped residence in Bandra (East), said he had been inspired by her story and called on the state government to reward her for her bravery.
"Meet Devika Rotawan. This brave girl was nine years old when she identified terrorist Kasab in court after the 26/11 attacks. She showed me her bullet wounds and I heard her inspiring story," Mr Siddique, a Congress leader representing the area, said.
Mr Siddique, who said he had gone to Ms Rotawan's house with a cheque when he heard about her financial struggles, also called on Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to allot the young woman and her family a house in the city under a special quota.
"I request honourable Chief Minister of Maharashtra to give this brave girl Devika a house in Mumbai under special quota. I will be writing a letter for the same! We must award her for the bravery she has shown. This will be a great token of appreciation from the #MahaVikasAghadi!" Mr Siddique tweeted.
I request Hon. @CMOMaharashtra to give this brave girl Devika a house in mumbai under special quota. I will be writing a letter for the same! We must award her for the bravery she has shown. This will be a great token of appreciation from the #MahaVikasAghadi government!— Zeeshan Siddique (@zeeshan_iyc) September 14, 2020
Eleven years ago Ms Rotawan stood up in court - with the help of crutches - and pointed at Ajmal Kasab, identifying the Pakistani terrorist as the man who shot her.
Describing the events on the night of November 26, she said: "There was a loud explosion... my father said we should leave and holding me in his arms he started running in one direction while my brother ran in another direction."
"Just as we were leaving I saw two persons firing at people. I received a bullet injury in my right leg," she said, adding, "My leg broke, and blood spilled out".
Last year Ms Rotawan shared her experience in a post for the Facebook page Humans of Bombay.
"I was so angry. Flashbacks of women and children dying at the station came back to me. But the clearest memory I had was of his face... I couldn't get his face out of my mind," she wrote in that post.
Ms Rotawan said that because she had testified, "everyone disassociated" themselves from her family.
"The state government's promise of a flat is still unfulfilled. But we're not giving up because we did what we had to for the country," she said.