The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Despair in horror wake
- Ring dilemma marks body hunt

From Calcutta National Medical College to a private nursing home in Park Circus to Calcutta Medical Research Institute (CMRI) to MR Bangur Hospital, and finally, to Kantapukur morgue. For the Sheikhs of Murshidabad, the search for the remains of their loved one, that began on Wednesday afternoon, just refuses to end.

For over 40 hours since fire engulfed the third-floor bag-making unit of 33C Topsia Road, where 18-year-old Nayan Sheikh worked and slept, his family members have been hurtling from horror pillar to despair post.

Late on Wednesday at MR Bangur, Nayan’s relatives had managed to identify his charred hands by the two rings on his two fingers, one of copper and the other of steel.

But on Thursday afternoon, their efforts to claim the body were thwarted at the last stop, Kantapukur morgue, when a family from Usthi, in South 24-Parganas, turned up, claiming that the body — ID tag number 510 — was that of Krishno Mistry, a 23-year-old youth charred to death in the same blaze.

“Krishno sported two rings on two fingers and they are still there,” asserted cousin Debasish Halder, leaving policemen from Tiljala and Jadavpur wondering how to resolve the identity crisis.

“We can’t take this any more. From 6 am on Wednesday, ever since the call came from their parents in Malehati, in Murshidabad, we have been hunting for the two brothers, Nayan and Kaushar. And we are yet to get the body,” sighed Md Dulun, a cousin of Nayan.

“Can you tell us what else we must do to identify the body of a family member'” asked the resident of Panchanan village, off the Bypass.

At Kantapukur morgue, as the two families begged to differ about the identity of “the body” — steering the stalemate towards a DNA test on Friday — Nayan’s father Nizam Sheikh sat silently in one corner. Not far from him sat Fazlul Haq Halder of Sangrampur, in Diamond Harbour, waiting for the remains of his 22-year-old son Abdul Halim Halder, also claimed by the Topsia death chamber.

“I had given him (Nayan) the copper ring a few years ago, when he was coming to Calcutta in search of work with his brother. At MR Bangur, while inspecting the charred bodies, I was only looking for the ring on the middle finger of his right hand. When I spotted it, I knew it was my Nayan,” murmured Nizam Sheikh.

The endless search, the claims and counter-claims have left the 51-year-old drained. “Oke maati ditey parbo to (Will I be able to bury him)'” he wondered.

From the dead to the dying, the post-blaze battle raged on. The condition of seven victims at Calcutta National Medical College, two at Nil Ratan Sircar (NRS) and three at SSKM Hospital continued to be critical.

“For all these burn patients, the next 48-72 hours is crucial. And after that, infective complications will start,” warned Mrintyunjay Mukherjee, superintendent of Calcutta National Medical College.

The Calcutta Municipal Corporation, meanwhile, has announced Rs 25,000 for the deceased and Rs 10,000 for the injured from the mayor’s relief fund.

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