Delhi building collapse shatters dreams in Bengal village

Friday, November 19, 2010

MALDA/MURSHIDABAD - A phone call from Biswajit Halder was the last time that Ashalata Halder got to interact with her 25-year-old grandson. After days of agonising over the fate of her family, Ashalata was shattered to learn that six of them including Biswajit had perished in the Delhi building collapse.

Ashalata, in her seventies, received a phone call from her elder grandson Khudiram late Monday night saying: “Mother is no more…father, brother… all are in hospital…I, too am in hospital… can’t speak much… it hurts.”

On Wedneday night, she came to know that six of her family had died in the building collapse in east Delhi in which at least 69 people died. A pall of gloom has descended on Satichura village in English Bazar police station area of Malda district.

The district administration has received intimation that Ashalata’s son Naren (55), his wife Maya (55), their elder son Khudiram (35), younger son Biswajit (25), Khudiram’s wife Anita (30) and their younger son Bijoy (4), who were all present when the building gave way, have since died.

About five years ago Naren went to Delhi in search of a job and managed one in a glass factory. Later, he took his family with him. Last year Naren also took his daughter Santana and her husband Mritunjoy along with their two children, but they did not stay in that ill-fated building.

Ashalata has been plunged in grief since hearing about the tragedy.

“Oh! God, what an ill-fated woman am I. I have lost my son and two grandsons and their mother and wife and also my younger great grandson.

“Now who will look after me and my elder great grandson,” she cried.

Naren’s two others daughters Bandana and Gita, who had came to Ashalata’s house hearing the sad news, said their brother Khudiram left Ajoy to stay with Ashalata during their last visit to Malda May this year.

Malda Additional District Magistrate Tarun Singha Roy said; “The list that came last evening has confirmed that 10 people form the district have died and 35 others are injured.”

The situation is equally tragic for octogenarian Chaina Halder of Bewa village near Farakka in Murshidabad.

Chaina has lost six members of her family in the Delhi building collapse. Three of her family are still missing.

“My elder daughter Jamuna went to Delhi in search of a livelihood after her husband died some 10 years back. Years later, she took my younger daughter Revati to work as a domestic help. While they used to work as maids, their sons worked as rickshaw-pullers and did odd jobs in factories.”

“Why did I allow all of them to go Delhi. Had I not allowed them, then this would not have happened,” lamented the 80-year old woman.

“Six bodies of my family members have already been identified, three members are still missing. Revati came home last Puja and got these rooms constructed,” Chaina said, pointing to the newly built portion of her house. “I asked them to return to the village within another one-and-a-half years, after they had made more money.”

But the tragedy has not been able to deter people from the village from nurturing dreams of taking up jobs in the metros. “Why would they not want to go? So much trouble is taken to earn more money and live a better life,” said Chaina’s daughter-in-law Savitri Halder.

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