First off, let me introduce myself. I am Sayantani, a lawyer and Nihas' colleague.
Nihas and I have been trying to contact the people on the list given to Nihas in the meeting held at Brio. Out of the three people on the list, we have so far managed to contact Mr. Ashok Mandal, brother of Prakash Jainath Mandal, one of the victims of the shootout at CST. We tried calling the others, but couldn't get through to them. We will continue to try and get in touch with them.
We met Ashok Mandal yesterday in the afternoon and spoke to him. Their family is from a village called Sariya in Jharkhand. Prakash and Ashok were in Bombay, where they worked as daily wage labourers, while the rest of the family is in Jharkhand. On the fateful day, the brothers had procured some work at CST and were about to return when the shootout happened.
Prakash Mandal is survived by his wife Rathiya Devi and his 5 year old daughter, Shilpi. He was the oldest of three brothers and the principal bread earner of the family. Apart from his immediate family comprising of his wife and daughter, his aged mother, Ashok's newly married wife and their third brother, who is currently in his final year of B.A., were also dependent on Prakash, and now on Ashok, who is now the principal bread earner of the family.
Ashok told us that Prakash's wife is in a very bad emotional state and has just begun recovering. But he was more worried about Shilpi's wedding in the future, which he said, as per the custom in their village, would take place when Shilpi's around 15, i.e., 10 years from now.Typically, he said, a wedding would cost anywhere between 1.5 to 2.5 lakhs.
Ashok also told us that the two brothers together managed to send around Rs. 10,000 per month to the family back home. This was used to meet daily expenses, as well as the costs of the younger brother's education. Education for Shilpi, who goes to a private school, was also taken care of through this.
He said his main concern presently was finding enough work everyday to be able to take care of the family, and he would happily take on a job with an assured salary. He has completed his matriculation (10th standard equivalent) and would be happy to take on a job, if available, as a peon in an office. However, he wasn't keen on a job with a security agency as a watchman or similar. We gave him Rs. 2,000/- as he seemed to be in financial difficulty.
For the long term, i.e., for Shilpi's wedding, we could consider the option of having an account opened in Shilpi's name with her mother as guardian, where we could place some amount in a fixed deposit, which will partly take care of the expenses for her wedding. Shilpi, I guess, would still be a minor at the time of her wedding, so she wouldn't be the only person to be able to access the money, but i'm sure we can work around that.
Ashok has also received a letter from Sanjay Nirupam's office requesting him to contact him/ his office for compensation announced by the Maharashtra government. He hasn't yet followed up on that...we told him to call up and let us know how things worked out, and that we'd be glad to help in the process if he needed any help.
Will keep everybody posted on this.
As I see it, there are two primary issues to be handled:
- A job for Ashok Mandal with a fixed income.
- A corpus to be created for the little girl's education and future.
- Ensuring that the girl gets an education and is not compelled to drop out.
As for the corpus, let us work out the logistics and then get back to you with requests to contribute generously....
Thanks Sayantani and Nihaas!