“You don’t know what it is like to lose the family’s breadwinner, the person who took care of every need, big or small. Moreover, the void their absence has created in our lives cannot be filled in one lifetime.” These are the words of 60-year-old Mehrunnisa, whose son and daughter-in-were passengers who died in the Air India Express IX-812 crash last year.
Crying throughout the first anniversary condolence meeting held in Mangalore by the bereaved families on Saturday, Mehrunnisa, a widow, said she is all alone since all her family members are dead.
The occasion on Saturday was grim and solemn, with children clasping the hands of their grandparents and parents who have lost their children being helped by their neighbours to reach the prayer meeting.
Mumtaz Begum, a young widow, said: “My parents are dead, and now my husband is also gone. I have to fend for my old in-laws now. I have spent the ¤2 lakh that was given as interim compensation to repair the home and repay my husband’s loans.
When I asked Air India (AI) authorities about the compensation, they asked me to show my husband’s proof of income.”
“I have also tried to contact his employers in Dubai, but they have not sent me the documents,” she added. Mumtaz came to Mangalore from Kasargod, Kerala, to attend the condolence meeting. She hoped that she could meet some AI personnel and apprise them of her difficulties, but none of them turned up.
Yathindranath of Udupi lost his son Shailesh in the crash. He said: “Shailesh was on the cursed flight. He was coming to attend my wife’s funeral, but I got his dead body instead. We had to prepare for two funerals on the same day. I do not know I why I’m living,” he said with tears brimming in his eyes.
A survivor, Pradeep K, said: “I want to go back to Dubai, but my passport is yet to be re-issued.
I lost it in the crash. My employer, an electric contractor, has
terminated my services after I failed to turn up for the job for more than six months.” He now ekes out a livelihood from a business partnership. Another survivor, Umar Farooq, said he too has lost his job in Dubai. “I worked as a transport manager in a company and I had five truck trailers of my own. I lost two of them as they were impounded due to bad maintenance in my absence and the other three are being looked after by my cousin, who sends money every month and this is my sustenance.”