The terrace of the three-storied Syed Block building is now abandoned. Until Sunday, the terrace rang out with the shouts and laughter of the children living in the building and the surrounding area of Annasandrapalya. Now, however, traumatised by the death of 13-year-old Abdul Razak, they refuse to go there to play.
Abdul Razak was electrocuted when his head accidentally brushed against a high-tension wire hanging over the terrace of Syed Block, which is a favourite of the children of the area because of its spacious terrace. He was visiting a friend in the apartment, and was trying to retrieve a ball from the tiled roof of a neighbouring building.
The ball Abdul Razak tried to remove
Eight-year-old Sufi, who witnessed the incident, wants nothing to do with the terrace. Not only has she not gone there since Sunday, she does not even gesture towards it when asked to show the wires. “His hair is still stuck on the wire,” she says.
Tiles broken and small patch of hair stuck on the wire
Sufi’s older sister would wash her face only at the terrace, at a tap over which these cables hang. “Now she acts as if the place doesn’t exist,” says Ramlath, their mother.
The 14kV high-tension cable extends from Bharath Earth Movers limited (BEML) to Hoodi near Whitefield. They dangle just a few feet over the roofs of many houses.
According to law, high tension cables are to be gradually shifted underground. In Bengaluru, the BBMP and Bescom are to cooperate in this task. When the incident occurred, the BBMP had said it did not have the money to shift the cables underground.
“Most of the people here shape (and position) the buildings in such a way that the building avoids contact with the high-voltage wires, yet gives them maximum space. Some of them even build higher structures even if it’s prohibited because all it takes is a bribe,” says Nadira.
Annasandrapalya mostly has poor families living in the area, with houses in tall buildings that are closely clustered together. The continuity of the rows of pencil-like buildings is only broken by the high-voltage wires that look like permanent festoons.
“Ours is the smallest house in the street because the wire dips lower right above our terrace,” says Numra, who lives on the next street.
Construction is going on in one of the houses that is under the wire.
Ramlath, whose house is right next to the terrace of Syed Block, said that the wires seem to have dipped lower over the years. “I have lived here for 13 years. I think these wires have dipped. Someday it might fall. If it does on a rainy day that would be the end of all of us,” she said.
The wire extends from BEML to Hoodi
It is not only the children who feel Abdul’s death so keenly. Ramlath thinks she could have done something to save Abdul. That say, she had guests at home. “It has been four days, I still cannot eat. Food reminds me of the incident because, if I had not gone inside my house to get food (for the guests), I could have saved the child,” she says.
On the day Abdul died, he was visiting Naushad, who lives in Syed Block. “Abdul's last words were for my son. He only wanted to see Naushad even when he was on his death bed,” says Naushad’s mother Nadira.
“Naushad is inconsolable even now. I try to stay strong in front of him but Abdul’s death still has not sunk into me. Both were rank students and the naughtiest in their class. They would come here together, drop their bags and head to the madrassa,” Nadira said.
Having lived in Syed Block for 10 years, Asima had gotten used to avoiding the electricity cables. “Sunday’s incident was the first one in so many years. But it was only after that, that I realised that these wires are like ‘Yamagandam’ (the danger of threat to life) hanging on our heads and I can't stop myself from looking at them,” she says.