In 1985 Whole Family Was Killed In Terror Attack, But Dr. Sankurathri Chandrasekhar Turned His Grief Into Social Service For Poor People

By Uma Nagar | 5 min read

sanukrathri Chandrasekher

It’s the usual drill after work: you come home and start asking about each family member. “Maa khan hai?” you shout, and then go on the hunt for Dad, asking, “Did Papa get home?” Maybe tease your siblings a bit. But picture this: You come home, and there’s no one there. Hard to even think about, right?

Now, think about those people who grew up without family or lost their loved ones in acts of terror like the Kanishka Bombing, when 329 passengers, from infants to elders, were killed brutally and their bodies were also not found. The relatives of these victims are left with a void that cannot be filled. What must they be doing now? Living a life that they pity, holding endless hatred for the terrorists who killed their families.

Meet Sankurathri Chandrasekhar, who lost his wife and two children in that terror attack of the Kanishka bombing and lost his zeal to live, but he decided to immortalize his family by establishing the Sankurathri Foundation in his wife’s village Kakinada and turned his grief into a ray of light for the poor people.

Let’s read further to know how humanitarian work became the purpose of Sankurathri Chandrasekhar’s life.

Who is Sankurathri Chandrasekhar?

Sankurathri Chandrasekhar is a famous Indian Social activist who recently received the Padma Shri Award in 2023 for his relentless humanitarian work. He has been doing social work since 1989, when he established the Sankurathri Foundation. In the last 34 years, he has expanded the area of his social work as he also opened the school, Sarada Vidayalam, in 1992, which provides education to the poor rural kids who cannot afford better education due to poverty. He also opened Srikiran Institute of Ophthalmology in 1993 to prevent blindness.

He is considered a light in the lives of poor people or we can call him the “messiah” for those underprivileged people. But his life was always a tragedy and painful. Sankurathri Chandrasekhar is the kind of person who knows what darkness is and that’s why he chose to become the ray of light for the people living in darkness.

Sankurathri Chandrasekhar Story

Born on November 20, 1943, in Andhra Pradesh, Sankurathri Chandrasekhar was a Canadian immigrant with a strong educational background. He earned his M.Sc degree in Zoology from Andhra University before relocating to Canada. There, he furthered his education by completing his M.S. degree in biology at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada, and later obtained his PhD from the University of Alberta, Canada. Chandrasekhar spent 13 years working in various fields in Canada before his endeavors took him elsewhere.

Tragic Childhood

Sankurathri Chandrasekhar’s childhood was marked by tragedy. At the tender age of 7, he faced the loss of his mother to an unidentified illness. Just two years later, his elder brother went missing. The family fell into financial distress when the Godavari floods swept away their home and many others. As he was still grappling with these losses, tragedy struck again at the age of 13 when his only sister passed away, leaving him utterly alone in the world. At such a young age, Sankurathri found himself overwhelmed by a sea of sorrow.

Despite the hardships of his early years, Sankurathri Chandrasekhar demonstrated remarkable courage and determination. He not only survived the tragedies of his childhood but also went on to establish a stable life in Canada. Rising from being an average student in India, he secured a position as a biologist with Health Canada and settled in Ottawa with his wife, Manjari Sankurathri, and their two children, Srikiran (6) and Sarada (3), both born in Canada. Life seemed to be going well for him until another devastating tragedy struck

Lost his Family in the Kanishka Bombing

Sankuranthri Chandrasekhar lost his family in the Kanishka Bombing that took place on June 23, 1985. His wife and two children were on that Air India flight and were killed in that bombing. The tragic part was that he didn’t even get a chance to see their dead bodies, as they were not found. After this tragedy, Sankuranthri Chandrasekhar was again left alone to deal with his pain.

His return to India from Canada

Three years after this unfortunate incident, Sankuranthri Chandrasekhar sold his house in Canada where he had been living for 2 decades. Then, to find the purpose of his life and sense of peace, he got settled in his wife’s village, Kakinada. There, he decided to start welfare work for the underserved people of the lower and tribal communities.

Sankurathri Foundation

In memory of his descended family, Sankurathri Chandrasekhar established the Sankurathri Foundation in 1989 intending to provide health and education facilities to the impoverished villages in the outskirts of Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh. His wife belonged to this village and to cherish his wife Manjari Sankurathri’s memories, he decided to empower the people of Kakinada Village.

Sarada Vidyalayam

In the name of his daughter, Sarada who could not fulfill her dream of going to school, as she was only 3 years old when she was killed in the terrorist bombing. Sankurathri Chandrasekhar also founded the Sarada Vidyalayam in 1992. The school has been delivering quality education combined with human values, discipline, exposure to arts and crafts, and general child development. A global network of donors pays for all of this, which is free for the parents.

The Foundation has provided free education, books, three sets of uniforms, transportation, a nutritious midday meal, in the afternoon, medical checks, and medicines to all students enrolled. As of today, the trust has 234 children attending from UKG to 10th grade, and about 60% of them are girls.

Srikiran Institute of Ophthalmology

With the support of the Manjari Sankurathri Memorial Foundation (MSMF) of Canada, Sankurathri Chandrasekhar started the Srikiran Institute of Ophthalmology (SIO) in 1993. Srikiran conducts roughly 80 surgeries and offers outpatient care to 750 patients every day.

No patient is turned away from the Institute for treatment because they are unable to pay for it; instead, all patients receive excellent eye care. SIO has treated more than 3.8 million (38 lakh) outpatients and completed over 325,000 cataract procedures, 90% of which were given to the underprivileged and impoverished at no cost.

Spandana Disaster Relief Center

Sanukrathri Chandrasekhar has faced miseries and lost his home due to the Godavari floods and he understands the pain of those who lose everything in the natural calamities. In Andhra Pradesh, it is more common for places to be destroyed by cyclones and floods.

So, Sanukrathri Chandrasekhar founded the Spandana Disaster Relief Center in 1998 with the motive of providing immediate help with food, shelter and first aid treatment to families and people who are the victims of natural calamities. This program provides groceries, utensils, and clothing so that people can return to their regular schedule a little quicker and go on with their lives.

Garden of Peace

In his foundation, there is a statue of Sankurathri Chandrasekhar’s family and he has mentioned in his interviews that he never wanted anything in return for work and he feels blessed when people and those kids pay respect to their statue.

Sankurathri Chandrasekhar moved to India in 1998, however, he still believes that Canada is his first home because there he started his family and had the most cherished moments of his life. He says, that his foundation wouldn’t have been possible without the support of his Canadian friends.

After doing everything he could, the only legacy Sankurathri Chandrasekhar wanted to leave behind was the “Garden of Peace” for India-Canada as he believed that the whole world should live in peace and harmony. So, he made the Canada-India Garden of Peace to celebrate the friendship between the two nations.

Coming to the end, Mad4India feels overwhelmed with the pain of Sankurathri Chandrasekhar and also feels so inspired and so grateful to him for being the beacon of hope in the lives of poor people.

Frequently Asked Questions

When did the Kanishka Bombing happen?

The Kanishka bombing happened on June 25, 1985.

Where is the Sankurathri Foundation located?

Sankurathri Foundation is located on 5 acres of rural land, 10 km away from Kakinada

Which state has the lowest literacy rate in India in 2023?

Andhra Pradesh reports the lowest literacy rate at 66.4%.

For Copyright Purposes, Links for the featured images- 1, 2, 3, 4

If you feel inspired to know about this Indian Social Activist, Sankurathri Chandra Sekhar, then do read about the transgender who gave up education due to college bully and became social reformer to fight for the whole community.

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