New Delhi: The morning of May 21, 1991 started as any other morning would for sub-Inspector Anusuya Daisy, who was assigned the task of handling the crowd and providing security to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi when he visited Sriperumbudur for an election rally.
Standing on the right of the former prime minister that day, seconds before the bomb blast that killed Rajiv Gandhi, Daisy had not the slightest inkling of what danger the next few minutes held. A sound that seemed to tear into her eardrums, along with extreme heat and force was unleashed towards her when a LTTE woman suicide bomber triggered the bomb.
Miraculously, Daisy survived the blast but was severely injured and lost two fingers on her left hand. Now a retired police officer, she still can’t get over the incident.
She remembers even the smallest of details, still traumatised and unable to forget the incident. “As a police officer on security duty for the visiting former prime minister, I noticed with awe how the bevy was jostling to get near him. I made an attempt to ring-fence them," Daisy tells CNN News18.
"At that point, Rajiv sir indicated that I should not push them back. I moved to his right and my police cap fell down as I lost balance. He patted on my shoulder and said, ‘Be relaxed’. Happy about being addressed by Rajiv Gandhi, I smiled. Right then, a girl who introduced herself as Kokila began speaking to him. He was listening intensely. Suddenly, a major blast ripped through the crowd,” Daisy recounts.
What followed was chaos, commotion and excruciating pain. “I felt as if my entire body was set on fire and I had a burning sensation all over. I didn't know what had happened but I thought I was going to die and fell down. I think after a few seconds I lifted my head and wondered if I were alive. After I realised that I was indeed alive, I screamed in pain and asked for help. There was complete commotion and I was lying amid a pile of dead people. I didn’t know what was happening," she said.
Daisy’s fight for survival began minutes after. "I tried getting up but wasn't able to move my feet. I felt like I was dying a slow death. I shouted for water and I think a sub inspector approached me and handed me a bottle of water. I was so badly wounded that I wasn't able to drink. My body was numb; my uniform was burnt and it was only my bare body. I suffered heavy blood loss. I didn't know what was happening to me and others around me."
The pain was so unbearable that she started asking people around her to end her life. “I screamed saying, ‘please kill me, I can’t bear the pain’. When people tried lifting me, I thought I had lost my left hand. Police officers carried me to a van and made me sit but I wasn’t able to sit and wanted to lie down. Many injured were also brought to the same van where I was made to lie down. We were taken to a government Hospital in Sriperumbudur. I was in a semi-conscious state. I remember seeing T.K. Rajendran (then sub inspector of police) at the ward. I held his belt and asked him to be by my side,” Recalls Daisy.
“Then I heard someone say, ‘take the blade’. I don't remember what happened after that as I fell unconscious. I was later shifted to Government General Hospital in Chennai. I remember the doctor saying that my left hand should be amputated. The doctor later told me that two of my fingers had been amputated. Since the ring finger was hanging, doctor performed a plastic surgery to fix it. Next day, I had blisters all over my body. I don’t remember how many days had passed but I remember seeing my husband at the hospital. I didn't know how many days I was hospitalised for, she says, adding that many CBI officers had come to the hospital to investigate the case. “Since I was present at the scene of crime, I narrated to the CBI officials what I witnessed on May 21 1991.”
While she was discharged after some time, the pain didn’t stop for several months as the pellets from the bomb had pierced her body all over. “I joined duty on a part-time basis but suffered chest pain on my left side again. I thought I had developed cancer and went to a private hospital. The doctor told me there were five-six pellets in my left chest. Many operations were performed on me to remove pellets from various body parts.”
So severe was the impact of the injuries that the left part of her chest still hurts, she says, adding: “Since I lost two fingers on my left hand, I started using my right hand more and developed pain there too. I have no choice but to deal with the pain even now.”
It’s been 27 years since the fateful night and Daisy, along with other families that lost their loved ones in the blast, is demanding stringent punishment for the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. “Those who planned this assassination deserved to be hanged. The convicts are leading a happy life in jail after murdering the former prime minister. Has anyone thought of the lives of families who lost their dear ones in this incident? It was a planned murder and a recce was done before they decided to murder Rajiv Gandhi. What if they plan to murder us — the eye-witnesses in this case —if released from jail? They are hardcore criminals," says the retired police officer.