On Sunday morning, when his neighbours were probably busy preparing for Raksha Bandhan celebration, 79-year-old Tulashiram Gawari, a resident of Pimple Gurav in Pimpri-Chinchwad, left his house early so that he could reach Malin on time to participate in the “dashakriya vidhi” of his sister. Sitabai Zhanjare, Gawari’s sister, was among the 151 residents of Malin who died in the July 30 landslide.
Over a thousand people gathered at the bank of Bubra river on Sunday to perform the 10th-day ritual for the deceased as per Hindu tradition. It was the same site where all 151 bodies, which were recovered from the debris, were consigned to flames during mass cremation that lasted for over a week since the landslide.
Among the attendees were the survivors of the tragedy, local villagers, relatives of the deceased and workers of political parties. Maharashtra Assembly Speaker and local MLA Dilip Walse-Patil, Tribal Development Minister Madhukar Pichad, local MP Shivajirao Adhalrao Patil and Pune District Collector Saurabh Rao were present too.
“My sister used to stay in Pune when her husband worked in the Khadki Ammunition Factory. After he retired four years ago, they left Pune and settled down in Malin where her in-laws lived. My sister and 13 other members of her in-laws’ family died in the tragedy. We found her body but her husband’s body was not found or we could not identify it,” said Gawari.
Since early Sunday morning, a stream of visitors started to descend on Malin, which lost 151 of its residents as over 40 houses were swallowed by the devastating landslide. By 9 am, a crowd of over a thousand people including men, women and children had gathered.
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The relatives and survivors visited the site, which was once a bustling village at the foot of a picturesque hillock, one side of which came crashing down on July 30.
“Uncle’s house was somewhere between those two stones, wasn’t it,” asked a young girl pointing towards a mound of rubble.
The villagers could be seen consoling each other.
Pramila Lembhe, who is among the survivors, could not hold back tears when she visited the site with her 3-month-old baby, who was miraculously rescued by the NDRF teams on the day of the landslide.
Having lost six members of her family, a wailing Asha Zhanzare, 40, was inconsolable as she wondered “where will I go now?”.
Ministers and political party leaders who visited the village promised the villagers and those present that the survivors would get “every possible help” to rehabilitate them.
Representatives of Mumbai-based Shantai Education Trust announced that they were willing to take the responsibility of the education of orphaned children. Representatives of the Life Corporation of India (LIC) announced release of the insurance money to the next of kin of the deceased without the requisite medical documents.