11/29/2008, 00.00
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Mumbai: Nitesh, 15, a life cut short by the folly of the terrorists

by Nirmala Carvalho
Among the 195 victims of the massacre in India was a young man killed in the crossfire between the police and terrorists. Security forces have killed the last three extremists barricaded inside the Taj Mahal hotel, putting an end to a battle that lasted for more than 62 hours. About 300 people have been injured, but the number could rise over the next few hours.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Among the 195 victims confirmed so far in the terrorist attack in Mumbai, there is also the young Nitesh, just 15 years old, killed in the crossfire between the attackers and the security forces, right in front of his father.

On the evening of November 26, during the first phase of the attack, Nitesh and his father Vijay Sharma arrived by taxi at the railway station Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, to catch a train back home to Mankhurd, a suburb about twenty kilometers from the place where the tragedy took place. He got out of the car and was shot in the back. His father recounts that he "held him in [his] arms" and accompanied him on the drive to the hospital. But there was nothing to be done for the young man, who died about ten minutes after he was admitted to the hospital.

"This is a human tragedy of gigantic proportions," Fr. Jerome Lobo, principal of the Padua School where Nitesh attended, tells AsiaNews. "By snuffing out the life of our young Nitesh, these terrorists have impaled the hearts of the emerging generation, our future, our tomorrow of India has been wounded." Fr. Jerome recalls Nitesh's efforts together with more than 3,000 students of the school to promote trust in humanity, the hope for civil coexistence. "Our student was tragically killed by forces whose ideology is based on hate. Do not give into despair, I told the young students, we must never lose hope, you are the future." He recalls the shock and dismay among the young people, and tells them that "as long as there is hate and a certain ideology, these acts will go on. It is up to you, the emerging generation, to change the mindset of the people with love, dialogue, mutual understanding and a determination to destroy the forces of division and suspicion."

Fr. Jerome has expressed to Nitesh's family the condolences and solidarity of the archdiocese of Mumbai: a tragedy within a tragedy, for the family of the young man, who have already suffered another loss. "In 1987, his elder son, five-year-old Vikram, was kidnapped and was never found. The Sharma family now have just two daughters."

This morning, Indian security forces killed the last three terrorists still barricaded in the Taj Mahal hotel, putting an end to a battle that lasted more than 62 hours. The updated numbers from the terrorist attack - although these could still increase - are 195 dead (22 of them foreigners) and about 300 injured. Confirmation comes from the head of Indian emergency services, but the fire department says that dozens of bodies are still to be recovered from inside the hotel.

The victims also include the chief rabbi of Mumbai and his wife: Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg were killed together with four other people during a blitz by the police at Nariman House, the Jewish center. But the couple's son, two-year-old Moshe, was saved, sheltered by the cook of the center and entrusted to the care of his grandparents.

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