The Manihars are still grappling with the fact that they lost their two young girls to the fatal building collapse at the perversely named Lucky Compound at Shilphata in Mumbra. On the anniversary of the tragedy, they couldn’t help but relive the anguish they felt when the structure was reduced to rubble in under a minute, leaving them nothing but the wreckage.
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“My daughters, Madina (16) and Sakina (13), were the only ones at home when the building came down. I had gone to the market with my son, Gulaam (12), to pick up some clothes for them when I got a call that the building had collapsed,” said Baitullah Manihar (42), who earns a living as a scrap dealer.
Manihar, his wife and their four children resided on the first floor of the building. At the time, his wife and youngest daughter, Umbari (8), were at their village; they had left two weeks before the incident.
Manihar continued, “I rushed back, and saw that a huge crowd had formed outside the compound. Our building —my daughters were by themselves there — was in a shambles.”
For the next three days, the distraught couple kept checking public hospitals to see if their daughters had somehow survived. But the finality of their loss struck them resolutely, when they were eventually informed that their children’s bodies had been taken to Thane Civil and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj hospitals in Kalwa for post-mortem.
“I’ll never forget how their faces looked in the morgue. Madina’s face was smeared with blood while Sakina had suffered severe head injuries,” said Manihar, the hurt making his voice shaky.
Manihar's youngest daughter, Umbari (8), holds up photos of her sisters, Madina and Sakina, who died when the building collapsed. Pics/Sameer Markande
Not just bereaved, they had also been impoverished. All their belongings were buried. They estimated they had lost
R3 lakh in goods and cash. The family now leads a hand-to-mouth existence.
“I had a small shop at the compound for collecting plastic, and it was completely destroyed. For the last four months, I have been running from pillar to post to get the compensation, but since we are from Nepal, we were told that only after the paperwork is complete will we get the cheque,” he said.
The family is contemplating getting rid of the photos of their daughters. The memories are too painful. Johara, the mother, rued that she lost her “beautiful daughters in the ghastly mishap”. She said, “I keep looking at their pictures and crying. My husband says I should stop, as my health is failing.”