Mumbai: Families of Kinara fire victims to start online community center

The online community will provide a support group for families who have lost their near and dear ones to unforeseen accidents

Coming to terms with life after losing a dear one is a tough task, yet rising above the grief is the only solution. The parents and families — who lost their dear ones to the deadly fire at City Kinara restaurant in Kurla in October last year — have decided to come together for an online community support group called Irada (Intention) to reach out to aggrieved parents, who have suffered a similar fate. The blaze had claimed the lives of seven young students of Don Bosco College and an engineer, who went to have lunch at the restaurant.

A poster designed by Irada team
A poster designed by Irada team

The initiative is the brainchild of Jalil Sheikh, who lost his 20-year-old son Sharjeel in the ill-fated accident. To help the parents on a personal level, Shiv Negi, IT head of Don Bosco College, has lent technical support for the portal.

Sheikh specialises in designing window displays for showrooms and Ganesh pandals. Sharing his story, he said, “We are yet to come to terms with our loss, and the cause of the fire is still unknown. To add to that, the indifference shown by the lawmakers and civic authorities, who still allow many restaurants to operate without following the stipulated fire safety standards, is disheartening.”

“When we connected with other parents, they unanimously agreed to reach out to the community at large and share their experiences on how to cope with untimely demise of young ones,” said Sheikh

The online community comprises of parents, teachers and students, who would act as volunteers. The objectives of the initiative are to identify and assist aggrieved families and help them in dealing with the state of shock and impending crisis.

Explaining the idea, Sheikh said, “We parents will be the first ones to reach out to the grieving families and offer emotional support to overcome the tragic circumstances. And through our own experiences, we will help them in gathering the courage to face life once again. The next step would be to provide legal and financial assistance if required, with the help of volunteers.”

Echoing similar thoughts, Jacinta D’Souza, who had lost her 18-year-old daughter Bernadetta in the fire, said, “Life will never be the same for me. In spite of her young age, my daughter had the maturity to find the courage and happiness even in the most challenging situations, which was a motivation for all of us. We now want to share the same inspiration to help others.”

When mid-day met the families earlier last week, it was evident that not all parents had come to terms with the tragedy and were still in mourning, like Rekha Thapar, who lost her young son Aakash in the accident. Thapar still visits the burnt-down restaurant and cries her heart out for hours.

“I cannot forget the image of Aakash, whose hands were in the position of sending a two-handed text message on the mobile, even in the charred state. This clearly indicates that the victims did not even have a chance to react, forget trying to find an exit. The victims may have detected the smell of gas leak.”

“I want to help the community to the best of my ability, but my personal loss and the unanswered questions about the Kinara fire cannot be sidelined,” said Thapar, a sole earning member of the family, whose husband is bedridden for last ten years.

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