Varanasi blast victim, bedridden for 8 yrs, dead

Raj Kumar Shahani, one of the victims of 2005 Varanasi blast, succumbed to his injuries after being bed-ridden for over eight years at his residence in Varanasi Wednesday. His family performed the last rites today.

Kumar, 32, was left paralysed below waist after two nails from the blast on February 23, 2005 at Dasashwamedh Ghat penetrated his spine. Even though the shrapnel were taken out, his spinal cord was permanently damaged.

Seven persons had died, while 13 others, including Kumar, were left seriously injured, in the blast.

The victim had received a compensation of Rs 25,000 which was spent in no time. His four other brothers were spending their meagre earnings for the last eights years hoping that Kumar would walk one day.

"After undergoing medical treatment at various hospitals, it became clear his spinal cord was badly damaged and that there was no chance of his recovery, but we did not lose heart and kept on with the treatment hoping that he may get well some day," said Nand Lal, Kumar's elder brother.

He added that the last time they took Kumar to a private hospital was about a week ago when he had complained of uneasiness.

Kumar's family ferries tourists on boats. On the day of the blast, Kumar, himself a boatman, had reached the ghat after receiving word that several new tourists had arrived. His house is a little distance away from the spot where the blast took place.

The state police had investigated the case but filed a closure report in 2008 after failing to get any specific leads.

Meanwhile, Maa Ganga Nishad Raj Sewa Samiti (boatmen's committee) president Vinod Nishad said they would demand a compensation of Rs 10 lakh from the state government for Kumar's family. He added that they would also try to meet chief Minister and would explain about the pathetic condition of the family.

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