Hyderabad, June 17: In an apartment in Hyderabad, a huge photo of Shiva Kiran is placed on the mantel piece. Naveena Ivaturi says for her nearly three-year-old son, this is Daddy, and the child gets upset if the picture is moved.
Shiva Kiran was a software engineer who was headed home from Bangalore to his family in Hyderabad eight months ago when the bus he was in caught fire. (45 killed as speeding bus headed to Hyderabad catches fire)
Shiva Kiran’s wife and son live alone now. On his first day of school, the child went upto the photo and said "bye" to his father or "Nanna." When his mother broke down, the young boy attempted to comfort her by saying, "nanna vasthadule (daddy will come)," something she has been telling him all these months
"I was working before he was born and gave up because I wanted to look after him well. Going back to a corporate job means staying 14 hours away from home and that is not possible for a single mother like me now. My son doesn’t want to let me out of his sight," Naveena, 32, says.
After Shiva Kiran’s death, the family got one lakh rupees as compensation. When the accident took place, the government promised a job to one relative of every victim, compensation of 25 lakhs, scholarships for children, and more. None of that has materialised.
"We met the then chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy and others and were told within two days, everything would be worked out. Almost eight months have passed, no one has bothered to find out how we are doing," says Naveena.
Eight people have been arrested for the accident after a criminal investigation found signs of extreme negligence. The driver was going at a speed of over 100 kmph. The bus caught fire after it hit a culvert and a metallic rod pierced the fuel tank. The bus was allegedly made of inflammable material and there was no fire exit except for the front door that got jammed. The driver escaped instead of helping the screaming passengers. No hammers were available nor was anyone trained in the bus on how to break the glass window panes and escape.
Over the last few months, the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, and the recent state and national elections have meant that approaching anyone for assistance, counsel or answers has been a formidable challenge.
Stumbling through the grief of the past and the uncertainty of the present, Naveena has found what she refers to as a "sister-in-sorrow." Hajira Parveen is 27. Her husband Mohammad Sardar was killed in the accident. She has young twin girls.
"It is only because of Naveena that I am even able to stand today and face the world. She has become like a sister, who is not related to me by blood," says Parveen.
Tired of trying to get their due from the state government, the women say they want the Prime Minister to intervene.
"Aren’t we children of the same Bharat Mata? I appeal to our Prime Minister. The accident that took my husband’s life is not his fault, or mine, or that of my innocent children. It is as though my husband was put in a locked room and burnt. Not even the driver helped him. Please help us. We are children of this country. Where should we go?" says Parveen, even as she hopes the two new chief ministers of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh will act to help.