Mumbra building collapse: Skipping tuition class saved 4-year-old's life

Apr 06, 2013, 09:43 IST | Richa Pinto

When Iqra Khan returned home saying she couldn't find her teacher, her mother scolded her for lying. Minutes later, anger disappeared as mother and child saw the building where she went for classes crumble before them

Bunking classes saved four-year-old Iqra Khan from being a statistic in the death toll of Thursday’s building collapse, which was 48 and counting at the time of going to press yesterday. Around 5 pm on the day, Iqra left her home and walked to the seven-storey building, located within Lucky Compound on Mahape Road in Thane’s Mumbra region, where her tuition classes were held every day. The building was a stone’s throw away from her house.

Photos: Man-made mayhem shocks Mumbra

Iqra Khan

Reaching the class, she did not see her teacher anywhere. The child was too impatient to wait. She came running back home to tell her mother that there was no class. The mother scolded the child for bunking, but before she could vent her anger completely, something earth-shattering happened right before their eyes.

Photos: Similar disasters that took place in Mumbai

No sooner did Iqra enter her house than she saw the same building from where she had exited not more than a few seconds ago come down like a house of cards. Her mother was beside her, aghast and disbelieving.

Nuruddin Khan
Teary-eyed Nuruddin Khan shows a picture of his four-year-old daughter Iqra who hasn’t spoken a word since Thursday’s mishap

“God has his way of working,” said Anjum, Iqra’s mother, after recovering from the shock of what could have been. Iqra’s father Nuruddin Khan, 27, was away at work at the time. The couple cannot stop thanking providence enough. A lot of children were reportedly trapped under the debris as the seven-storey building collapsed. Not all the bodies have been recovered yet.

Still scarred
The incident hasn’t been without any repercussions for little Iqra, who has been left shaken by what she saw. “She has not said a word ever since,” said her father Nuruddin. “My wife and chid were both stunned and very frightened when they saw the building fall. They are in shock.”

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The family has decided to move now, amid reports that many buildings in the area have been erected in breach of construction and safety norms. “Having watched the building crumble before us, we have decided to shift from our residence. We have already made arrangements to live at a place in Sonapur in Bhandup,” Nuruddin said. The couple has another two-year-old daughter.

Iqra, a kindergarten student, refused to talk to us. However her family members added that she was too afraid after everything that she saw. “The tuition class is known to have over 20 children. We feel that it was God who wanted our daughter to be saved and hence sent her back home.

Initially my wife got angry at her thinking she was lying, only to realise that our daughter was saved from such a major accident,” said a father who is a tempo driver. The Khan family used to reside in a flat on the second floor of the adjacent building.

Deaths in the family
Their daughter was saved. But the Khans were not entirely spared the bereavement that the collapse has caused many other families. Nuruddin’s elder brother used to live on the sixth floor of the building with his wife and three kids, two girls and a son. Seema Khan, the brother’s wife, and their children were trapped within the debris.

A day after on Friday, the bodies of Seema, her 10-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son were pulled out of the rubble. The other daughter has not been found yet. A kin of the Khan clan told MiD DAY, “Our relatives had shifted to the building hardly a week ago. While our little Iqra had a close shave with death, we are seeing three deaths in our family together. Looks like Iqra was destined to be saved. What else can explain this?” 

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