Travelling to the interiors of Idukki, one can see huge heaps of sand at a distance of every few kilometres - the after-effects of the deluge that caused numerous landslides in the hilly district. Roads and agricultural lands which existed till recently have been devastated. The landslides and the consequent landslips have reduced houses to rubble.
But for Ajmal, the deluge has taken away his dearest ones... his parents and his younger brother. Early morning on August 15, the death of three family members in Idukki was reported... Mohammed aka Mammootty, his wife Asma and their 17-year-old son Mufsal. They were sleeping in their house when it was struck by the landslide. Ajmal, their elder son, who is a student of Physiotherapy, was away in Bengaluru for studies.
Spot where Ajmal's house existed
"Even we came to know about the disaster quite late as there was no connectivity at all. Ajmal was informed through his friends," Mammotty's younger brother Azees tells TNM. The dead bodies haven't been recovered yet. Though a leg presumed to be that of Asma was found from a stream beneath, the DNA test didn't confirm it.
Efforts to find the missing persons have failed so far. Ajmal had been at the spot where his house once stood, witnessing an almost day-long digging in the area to find the bodies. "He was watching it, he didn't speak or move from the place the entire time. No one was able to move him from there," says Madhu EV, who also witnessed the digging. Madhu EV is a police officer attached to the Vellathuval Police Station.
Ajmal is back in Bengaluru now to give his exams. "We all asked him to go. After all, there should be a change in his state of mind. We are all concerned about his future, as the loss is something we can't replace," says Azees. Though TNM tried speaking to Ajmal, he was not in the right frame of mind to talk nor was he willing to share his photograph.
Mammootty's neighbourhood family killed
Near Mammootty' s house stayed Mathew, and this place also wears the same desolate look. Since the landslide occurred early morning, Mathew and his wife Elsa were also sleeping.
Though Mathew was rescued from the area, his life couldn't be saved. Hill erosion had caused road blocks along the way because of which Mathew couldn't be shifted to hospital on time. The body of Elsa was recovered later by a youth named Sidhique, who dug up the area putting his life at risk.
Mammootty, Asma and Mufsal among list of missing persons
With bodies of the three members of Mammootty’s family not being recovered, this poses a challenge to the local body administration since the ex gratia payment announced by the government for the kin of the deceased can't be sanctioned for Ajmal.
The documents of the land have also been lost along with the house. Mammootty was a driver.
“Now, we have decided to submit a petition from the panchayat to minister MM Mani to present it in the Assembly. Our request is to consider this as a special case so that money can be sanctioned for Ajmal which would be a huge help for him and his studies, "says Mercy Jose, ward member of Ponmudi first ward of Konnathady panchayat.
For the family of Mathew, the money has been transferred, says Mercy. "About the missing, it is learnt that the Collector can decide in six months. I had prepared the FIR in both cases, for the families of Mathew and Mammootty, " says Madhu. Azees has been meeting authorities to have clarity on what to do next. "I have met the Collector, tehsildar and the Revenue Divisional Officer. All of them have told me that the cabinet will decide on it, he says.