BENGALURU: A hole made by slum-dwellers in a fence erected to keep people safe from an adjacent stormwater drain in Bellandur, let an unsuspecting six-year-old girl slip into the gushing waters in the drain late Friday morning.Fire and emergency personnel launched a massive search, but there was no trace of Monalika, daughter of Nityanand and Bowli Kulia, a couple from Assam working as housekeepers in nearby buildings.
A senior police official said the search was called off at 7pm, and is scheduled to resume at first light on Saturday with National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel, as per instructions by senior fire and emergency service officials.Disaster struck around 11.30 am when little Monalika was playing with other children in the slum after her parents left for work. An inquisitive Monalika reportedly went near the gap in the fencing to look at the gushing waters caused by Thursday’s heavy rainfall in the city. Unfortunately, she slipped and fell when she tried to peep over the edge to take a better look.
The other children with her panicked, and not knowing what to do, kept the incident to themselves for about two hours, only after which they informed their respective families about the turn of events. Monalika’s inconsolable mother Bowli later told The New Indian Express that she was informed of her daughter falling into the drain by a girl who rushed to the neighbourhood where she was working.
“I ran to the drain and till the end of the fence to find my baby. But after I gave up, the others joined in and we alerted the Marathahalli police,” Bowli narrated.
Police immediately alerted fire and emergency services, who rushed 20 personnel with two boats and began searching for Monalika. The search went on from 2pm until 7pm, but as the flow of the water was heavy, it posed a challenge when the light faded, and it was called off. Desperation set in among the slum-dwellers as they had been alerted by the scared children about two hours after the incident took place.
Some were seen screaming at the top of their voices on why the fence was cut. One of them, Rajesh, told that some slum-dwellers had cut a hole in the fence to enable them to wash vessels and clothes on the edge of the drain, without bothering about the risk it would pose to children playing nearby.