Shabnam Md Ali Shaikh, still ‘missing’ after the building collapse in September last year (Praful Gangurde/HT photo)
Shabnam Md Ali Shaikh, still ‘missing’ after the building collapse in September last year (Praful Gangurde/HT photo)

Bhiwandi building collapse: 5 months on, families still living in hope

It has been more than five months since Shabbir Qureshi, 33, hugged his three-year-old-son Museb
PUBLISHED ON FEB 21, 2021 12:53 AM IST

It has been more than five months since Shabbir Qureshi, 33, hugged his three-year-old-son Museb. Since the fateful day of September last year when the Jilani Building in which he was staying collapsed in Bhiwandi, Qureshi is leaving no stone unturned to look for his son, whose body was never found at the site.

Like Qureshi, the family of 28-year-old Shabnam Mohammad Ali Shaikh, too has not received their daughter’s body.

Qureshi said, “I have not heard about my son Museb since the day of the crash. I have asked every authority. However, none of them is able to give me any answer. His body was never found among the debris. I don’t know if he is alive or dead.”

The building collapse killed 38 and injured 25.

Qureshi added, “I, along with my two sons who survived, shifted to a nearby building, though not a day goes without wondering what happened to Museb. My wife and daughter also died in the crash. Their bodies were recovered but Museb is still missing.”

Qureshi has produced all the valid documents of his son to police and also lodged a missing complaint at Narpoli police station.

Qureshi, who runs a mutton shop in the locality, had raised an alarm when the building started shaking and helped others to escape.

Senior police inspector of Narpoli police station, MB Shinde, said, “Although a complaint of the child missing was raised by the family, we could not trace him yet. The investigation was carried out from all the angles, but the boy was not found.”

In another such case, the family of Shabnam, 28, who died in the incident, also did not receive her body.

“There was an unclaimed body at the hospital which police said was my sister’s. But I denied as it did not match my sister’s physique and features. How can I go wrong about my sister,” said Nilofer Mohammand Ali Shaikh, 34.

Shabnam and her mother Zulelkha Shaikh, 52, lived in the building. While the mother survived the incident, Shabnam was crushed under the debris.

“A DNA test was done to check if the unclaimed body was of my sister. But the test did not give any proper result. Also the police asked us to take away the unclaimed body and do the final rites. I had to do it thinking about my mother. But even today, I believe my sister’s body was misplaced by the police,” added Nilofer.

“We did the DNA test but the report was inconclusive. The family agreed to take the unclaimed body and the matter was closed. There was no misplacement of bodies as we check it before giving it away to the families,” added Shinde.

Deputy Commandant of National Disaster Response Force, Ashish Kumar, who worked throughout the rescue operations said, “When we take up the rescue operations, we only pull out the bodies and give it to the police. It is their job to further identify the body. Hence, we cannot actually comment if the body was misplaced. Even though the family claims the boy was missing, we had searched and cleared the debris completely and no one was found.”

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