She was one of the few lucky ones to survive the tragedy at Murud Beach, however, Subhani Shaikh is yet to come to terms with the loss of 14 of her college mates.
Subhani with her mother Shahnaaz
She is so traumatized by the incident that the mere sight of a fish tank was enough to scare Subhani post the counseling session. After being brought home from the hospital, the 18-year-old, a computer science student, saw a fish tank and broke down. Her maternal uncle and sisters distracted her and calmed her down.
“We were so tired after taking examinations and submitting a range of assignments, that we needed this break. Initially, this picnic was only open to final year students but after we insisted, the college let the juniors come too. I am very fond of aquariums and I had never been to a beach before. We were so excited that we had started preparing two weeks ahead of the picnic,” said Subhani. As soon as the group reached the beach, the students jumped at the opportunity to splash around in the water.
“On the way to Alibaug, one of the buses had a flat tyre that delayed us by nearly an hour. So as soon as the bus reached the beach, everyone made a run for the water. No one paid heed to the warnings of local authorities and college faculty. Since this was the third trip to the beach for the final year students, they were very confident. As soon as I came out of the water to go for lunch, I saw my seniors cry for help. I went close to help them but I fainted. My classmate Faiz Khan pulled me up and rushed me to a hospital on a motorbike he borrowed from a local.”
Subhani further added that the sight of her fellow students’ dead bodies traumatized her and she fainted again.
“I could not believe that the people with whom we had celebrated Teachers’ Day had died and after I saw everyone’s dead bodies, I fainted again. I feel bad for our senior Madki Saif Ahmad, who was very helpful and had commendable leadership skills. He used to encourage students to participate in every activity. May everyone’s souls rest in peace,” she said.
Shahnaaz, Subhani’s mother, who teaches at the same college, said, “This is the first and last picnic I am sending any of my children to. My daughter has been given a second life. I know handling students is a tough task but before taking children to the beach, they should have found out the timings of high tide and averted this tragedy. There were no lifeguards present at the beach.”
Other than Subhani, four other female students of Pune’s Abeda Inamdar College were rescued from the high tide and admitted at Sassoon General Hospital in Pune on Tuesday. They were counseled by psychiatrists at the facility and discharged in the afternoon. They have been identified as Sneha Anamal (23), Anuja Chatterjee (17), Alifiya Kazi (19) and Kavita Jinha (20).
Dr Ajay Taware, medical superintendent at Sassoon General Hospital, said, “The girls were in mental trauma when they arrived here and they needed counseling. They came here at around 8.30 am and till 1 pm they were counseled by our team of three psychiatrists.”