NOOR Hasan,17,had thought Mumbai would be a nice vacation after his Class XII exams. Hoping to earn some money before he joined college,he arrived in the city on Thursday morning.
Hours later,he was dead,among the casualties of the Mumbra building collapse. Ten others from his village,Gorianagar in West Bengals Malda,employed as construction workers in the seven-storey building,were among the dead. Their bodies were flown to Kolkata on Saturday evening,after arrangements were made by the local MLA of their area,West Bengal Tourism Minister Krishnendu Narayan Chowdhury.
Hasan was the only child of his farmer parents,says M D Duluur Rehman,also from Malda,who migrated to Mumbra over a decade ago and now runs a contract business here. At the time the building collapsed,Hasan was among 35 daily wage labourers from Malda working there.
People travel in a group from the village and most of them take up work on a daily contract. Noor was with 34 others and working as a mason. The builder had paid them Rs 35,000 for a day to transport raw material, says Rehman.
There are,in fact,15,000 workers from Malda estimated to be working in Thane. So much so that on Thursday evening,even before the authorities had reached the spot of the building collapse,Rehman got a call from relatives back home in Dulalganj village.
One of the survivors must have called his relatives. I am well-established in Mumbra and in touch with people at home, Rehman says.
The 35 from Malda working in the building that day belonged to Dulalganj,Mohdipur,Kalha Basti,Mulshi Tola and Gorianagar villages. Rehman says that the 24 who survived have fled fearing police harassment. They feared the authorities would take them to task. They were merely doing the job given to them, he says.
While known for its excellent jute,Malda,he points out,is poverty-stricken. Most people migrate here to make as much money as possible in a short span. Taking advantage,the builders make us work in two-three shifts. The building that collapsed had come up in less than three months.