Girl’s dream of becoming an engineer shattered: Part 1 of series on Malleswaram terror attack
When a bomb went off in Malleswaram a year ago, Leesha N S, then a 18-year-old with dreams of becoming an engineer, was walking by. She was assailed by exploding parts of a motorbike.
Today, she is crippled and in pain, and worries constantly about her poor father’s plight.
On April 17 last year, terrorists triggered a blast near the BJP office on 13th Cross, injuring 16 people, many grievously. The government announced it would take care of the medical expenses of the victims, but now, when Leesha’s father goes to the chief minister’s office to claim her medical bills, officials taunt him, “Aren’t you done yet with those operations yet?”
Daughter of a battery technician, Leesha was one of those who suffered severe injuries that morning. She is now trying to rebuild her life against difficult odds: her father has lost his job, his debt is piling up and the government responds tardily to his requests for help.
Soon after the blast, the government granted her `1 lakh as compensation. The then chief minister Sadananda Gowda visited her and promised the government would cover all her medical expenses. Siddaramaiah, the current chief minister, reiterated the offer.
“I have had five operations and after each, I have to stay a few extra days in hospital for my father to get the money reimbursed,” Leesha said. “This usually takes four or five days.”
The blast knocked off four inches of a bone in her left leg. She needs grafting, which is time consuming and expensive. “When we ask for the money, officials in the chief minister’s office ask us why I am undergoing so many operations,” she said.
To ensure that her treatment doesn’t affect her studies, she plans the operations for the semester holidays.
“I need a sixth operation for a bone marrow graft. I have asked doctors for time till my exams are over,” she said.
Leesha’s earlier career dreams remain shattered. “I wanted to be an engineer and was preparing for the CET. Although I was allowed to do the test in hospital, I could not do it well,” she recalled.
She now studies for a bachelor’s degree in computer applications. Her teachers and friends are supportive. “Teachers let me do my lab assignments during the holidays and take special classes,” she said.
Leesha’s father Doreswamy Raj has spent over `4 lakh on five operations. Other misfortunes have befallen him: he lost his job as he had to be with his daughter, and his motorbike was stolen.
Doreswamy Raj used to work near the RMC Yard in Yeshwantpur.
“I have to take her to the hospital and also pick her up and drop her from college every day,” Doreswamy said.
On some days, the expenditure on these commutes goes up to `1,000. “Initially, we travelled by auto as it is cheaper. But when the driver braked, the rod in her leg would jerk, hit the vehicle’s body and start bleeding,” Doreswamy said.
Medicines cost about `10,000 a month. These are not reimbursed by the government.
‘Friends Call Me Bomb’
Along with Leesha, her friend Rakshitha too was injured in the blast, although her injuries were relatively minor. “My friends have nicknamed me ‘bomb’. I don’t mind that, but I do want to forget the blast,” Rakshitha told Express.
“Everyone wants to know what happened and I am tired of talking about it.”
Ganesh Rao, a KSRP head constable, was also injured in the blast.
Hailing from Belgaum, Rao is still in pain and can barely stand for 15 minutes.