Mumbai: This year’s Amarnath yatra proved to be Nirmala Thakur’s last yatra. Nirmala wanted to tour to Amarnath for once and then stop all religious tours (yatras). However, she lost her life in the terror attack on Monday evening while heading towards Amarnath.
Nirmala and Usha Sonkar, who also died in the attack, hailed from Dahanu, near Mumbai.
There were 60 passengers from Valsad, Vapi, Navsari, Udwada and Dahanu on the Amarnath tour.
They had booked the 21-day tour, which started on July 2 and was supposed to end on July 23. The bus (GJ 9 Z 9976) was booked from Om Sai Travels, Valsad.
Nirmala boarded the bus along with others at Umargaon in Gujarat. The bus took them first to Pushkar in Rajasthan, Ajmer, Mathura, Vaishnodevi before heading to Amarnath.
Pradeep Thakur (30), Nirmal’s son, said that his mother had called him on Sunday and told him that stones were being pelted on their bus near Balthal just before the starting point of the Amarnath yatra.
“I advised her to return home to Ashagadh in Dahanu, but she said she would continue as it was her last religious tour. She had almost visited all the religious points in India and completed all the pilgrimages. Amarnath was only the last, which she had not visited,” said Pradeep.
“When she called me on Sunday, that was the last call. Bhagyamani Thakur was also travelling in the same bus and she was sitting beside my mother. She survived with little injuries as the glass panel broke and fell on her. On Tuesday morning, she gave me the sad news of my mother’s death on phone,” he further said.
Nirmala was sitting near the window seat and Bhagyamani was sitting beside her. When the terrorists fired at the bus, Nirmala was targeted directly, while Bhagyamani was shielded by Nirmala. Last year, Nirmala visited the Kumbh Mela in Ujjain and the year before, she visited Pandharpur. Pradip is a driver by profession while his father Bharat (60) ran a dairy, which he closed last year.
Usha Mohanlal Sonkar is the second victim from Dahanu in the terror attack. She was the only sister among eight siblings. Guddu Ramlakhan Sonkar, her younger brother, said that Usha was a religious person.
Her husband, Mohanlal, could not speak as he was under shock due to Guddu’s sudden death. The Sonkar family runs a very famous wholesale vegetable and fruits business in Dahanu for last 40 years.
“We got a call from the BSF on Tuesday morning informing us about the tragic incident,” said Guddu.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced Rs 10 lakh compensation to the kin of the Amarnath Yatra victims from Maharashtra. The State government also provided a helicopter to bring back the mortal remains of two pilgrims to Dahanu.