HYDERABAD: IT was a holiday that should have ended with pleasant memories. But it proved to the last Christmas Eve for the three siblings - Joy Suchita, Aaron Naik, and Satwik Naik - studying in the USA after an unceremonious fire broke out.
Three weeks later, their bodies were brought back to the city on Friday morning rendering the parents of the siblings -- K Srinivas Naik and Sujatha Naik -- inconsolable. Although not a single burn could be seen on their bodies, given the three were died due to asphyxiation.
On Friday, when their mortal remains were flown back, Christian community leaders descended from across the city to stand in solidarity with the grieving family.
“We were like a close-knit group of ten cousins who would meet during the summer vacations each year near their old home in Bagh Amberpet,” recalled Vijay Kumar, a cousin of the siblings. The three siblings moved to the USA about two years back after attaining a scholarship from the French Camp Academy, located in Mississippi.
According to the family members, the three were to spend the Christmas vacation at their family friend Danny Coudriet’s home. “They were excited to meet their host. We even spoke on a video call prior to the tragedy,” said Ashok Naik, another cousin. “But the night abruptly brought an end to their lives,” he added while terming them to be ‘their role models for their Banjara tribe towards a better education and life’.
Though the investigation is still underway, the family members suspect that fire from the chimney spread through the carpets, and the entire house resulting in the death. “Some are saying that there was an electrical short circuit but we are inclined to believe that fire emerged through the wood-burning fireplace that eventually spread through the entire ground floor,” said Vijay Kumar.
Unlike India, fire alarms and sprinklers are a must for all in homes in the USA but in the case at hand, there was only one smoking fire alarm, according revealed a report by Associated Press. The prayer service held for the deceased children at the Baptist church saw the international speaker Ravi Zacharias deliver a sermon, while pastor G Samuel, Bishop of Methodist Church of India MA Daniel, and Telangana State minorities vice-chairman Shankar Luke condoling the family.