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October 12, 2018

Kodagu disaster: Shattered parents of ‘vanished’ daughter helplessly cremate her wooden effigy

Harsha Raj Gatty | coastaldigest.com

Aggrieved over their failure to trace their beloved daughter, who was “vanished” when massive floods and landslides wrecked havoc in parts of Karnataka nearly two months ago, parents of the class 10 girl have laid her effigy to rest at Jodupala, a calamity hit village in Kodagu district, bordering Dakshina Kannada.

Draped in a traditional Kodava saree, decked with sports medals, school bag, select ear rings and jewelleries that were among the favorites of their daughter, Somayya and Jayanthi silently accompanied an effigy along with a lengthy procession of family members, relatives, neighbours and the classmates of Manjula on Thursday, October 11. The wooden sculpted effigy was in memory of a 15-year old, whose whereabouts are unknown since August 17.

Manjula, originally a resident of Bettatturu, was residing with her maternal uncle Basappa, aunt Gauramma and her cousin Monisha at Jodupala. "Along with being good at studies, she was an ace throw-ball player, having brought several laurels to school and the district. To pursuit her sporting passion and reduce her daily commute, she resided at her relative’s place," Ganapathy, Principal of a local school said.

However, when heavy rains lashed Kodagu in August this year, several areas of Jodupala witnessed severe landslides. One such landslide hit the house of Basappa on August 17, burying the family.

With subsequent relief efforts, the rescue officials were able to retrieve and positively identify the body of Basappa, Gauramma and Monisha, but Manjula's body was not discovered.

Several attempts were made by the personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF); the matter was even brought to the notice of legislator KG Bopaiah, who requested the authorities to intensify the search for the missing member of the family but to no avail. "In September, a skeleton remain was found in surrounding area of the collapsed house, but later it was found to be of some animal," Poornima, a local resident said.

Meanwhile, the family has been kept in abeyance from any monetary assistance from the authorities in the absence of the 'body'. Nevertheless, the family decided to cremate the body of Manjula at the same spot where the house collapsed. "I have three other children. My only regret is being unable to see my daughter's face in the final moments, which is emotionally draining me. "We only want to ensure that we perform the final rites of our child, so that at least her soul may rest in peace," Somayya said.

Kodagu disaster: Shattered parents of ‘vanished’ daughter helplessly cremate her wooden effigy

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