It is a different Valentine’s Day in Coimbatore!
Every Valentine’s Day brings with it terrible and horrific memories to the residents of Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu’s second largest city after Chennai. Kalarani, who was working as a floor manager in one of the leading textile show rooms in the city, saw sixty of her colleagues getting blown off in the synchronised bomb blasts which shook Coimbatore on February 14, 1998.
“I can never forgot what I saw with my own eyes. Someone had left a bag in the show room and we did not take it seriously. It has happened many times in the past. Some of the customers forget to take their bags when they leave the shop. But they come back within hours in search of the lost luggage. We did not get much time to worry about the unclaimed bag as there were many shoppers in the showroom at that time. It all happened within seconds,” recalled Kalarani who was seriously injured in the bomb blast.
She was lucky to get her life back though she lost the toes in both her legs. Kalarani is yet to fully recover from the injury and needs frequent hospitalisation to attend to her legs. Vijayalakshmi, who stays in the nearby street is the living martyr of the Coimbatore bomb blast. She lost her one and only son who was hardly 15. “After having his lunch, he ran away to the street to play cricket. Within minutes we heard a blast and I ran out to find out what happened.
What I saw was the blood drenched body of my son. Had he been alive, he would have been 35, married and would have taken care of me, an orphan now,” said Vijayalakshmi. She lost not only her son, but ten of her relations and friends who were staying in the neighbourhood. Vijayalakshmi found solace by adopting a girl child whom she married off last year only to be haunted by the memories of the 1998 serial bomb blast in Coimbatore which claimed the lives of nearly 60 innocent persosns.
Both Vijayalakshmi and Kalarani were unaware of the significance of February 14 as commercialisation and globalisation were yet to catch up with Coimbatore city. “We do not belong to that strata of society for which these festivals are being celebrated,” said Kalarani.
Coimbatore is yet to recover from the impact of the serial blasts, a handiwork of a group of terrorists. “Their motive was to terrorise the population in the city and they had targeted L K Advani, the BJP leader who was scheduled to address an election rally in the city. Advani had a providential escape on that day because of a traffic block ,” reminiscences Arjun Sampath, leader of Hindu Makkal Katchi, a political outfit.
The bombs placed near Advani’s stage went off before he reached the venue.
He said while the likes of Vijayalakshhmi and Kalarani live with scars of the Valentine Day blasts, most of the the perpetrators of the crime are out and are scheming to commit more heinous crimes. Wednesday saw Sampath and group organising prayer meeting in the city in memory of the 60 lives which were snuffed out by the blasts.
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