35-year-old woman drowns after manhole lid gives way in Thane

The police registered a case against the municipal authorities, local corporator and fire officials

In a freak accident, Jameela Khan (35) lost her life after a manhole lid, and the surrounding area, caved in the moment she stood on it. The incident occurred around 9.45 pm on Saturday night, behind Thane Central Jail while Khan was on her way home after attending a religious function at Uthalsar, Thane, with her family members.

The spot behind Thane jail where Jameela (Insert) met with a tragic end. Pic/Sameer MarkandeThe spot behind Thane jail where Jameela (Insert) met with a tragic end. Pic/Sameer Markande

“I was returning home with my aunt Jameela and three cousins in our grandfather Saaed’s auto rickshaw. But one of the tyres punctured midway and we decided to walk,” said Khatija Khan.

The incident
Khatija said her sister sat inside the auto, while her brothers and grandfather decided to push the vehicle. “Aunt Jameela and I decided to walk alongside. She grabbed my hand on spotting a manhole on the footpath we were walking on. To ensure that the lid was intact, she first placed her right foot, followed by left. However, the moment she stood on the lid, it caved in,” said a teary-eyed Khatija.

She claimed despite her screams for help, none of the passers-by rushed to their aid. What made matters worse was the absence of streetlights near the manhole, which made it impossible for them to spot Jameela.

Friends indeed
Two locals — Shoeb Khan (26) and Shafiq Khan (22) — jumped into the 15-foot-deep manhole and pulled out Jameela’s body.

“Around 10.30 pm, we saw a huge crowd had gathered near the jail. Upon enquiring, we discovered that a woman had fallen into the manhole. Bystanders and the fire brigade officials at the spot were doing nothing to help her,” said Shoeb.

He added that he and his friend decided to take matters into their own hands upon discovering that the person who had fallen was his friend, Mozzam Khan’s aunt.

“Despite protests from the firemen, we took two of their helmets and entered the manhole. We had to wade through waist-deep water before I found her body, some 20 metres away from the spot she had fallen at. I pulled her towards us with the help of a wooden stick, following which she was pulled out of the manhole,” he said.

Jameela was rushed to Thane Civil Hospital around 11 pm, where she was declared dead. Drowning was ascertained as the cause of her death.

“Doctors claimed though she had suffered minor injuries, she died due to drowning,” said Mozzam, Khatija’s elder brother. He, along with locals from Rabodi, protested outside the hospital, demanding an FIR against the negligent authorities.

“We are two brothers and four sisters. After our father’s death, our mother left us. Aunt Jameela raised us alongside her two children. We’ve lost our mother, not aunt,” said Mozzam. A resident of Rabodi, Jameela is survived by her husband, who works abroad, and two children — Akram (11) and Noman (7).

FIR registered
A case has been lodged at the Thane Nagar police station under Sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 34 (common intention) of the IPC, wherein the cops have booked Thane Municipal Corporation authorities, the local corporator, contractor and fire brigade officials.

“A case has been registered against authorities concerned for negligence,” said Senior Inspector M V Dharmadhikari from Thane Nagar police station.

Fire department speak
Ashok Parab, station officer from Jawhar fire brigade unit, said, “We rushed to the spot with the Balkum unit after receiving a call about a wall collapse from the control room at 10.25 pm. The crowd that had gathered at spot refused to make way for us, which hampered the protocol. Our officials Ravi Pawar and Bhavesh Pawar, along with two locals, rescued the woman and rushed her to the hospital. We did our best. We discovered that her relatives called us an hour after the incident. The crowd gathered was so massive that we had to summon the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) to control it.”

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