Kodagu labourer loses hope of finding daughter's body

Kodagu labourer loses hope of finding daughter's body

Somaiah shows a photo of his missing daughter Manjula whose body has not yet been recovered after massive landslides destroyed Jodupala village in Kodagu last month. DH Photo/B H Shivakumar

On October 10, K A Somaiah wants to perform the final rites of his 15-year-old daughter K S Manjula. This will be a unique ritual, where a doll-like figure will represent the girl because her body has not been found.

Manjula is feared to have been washed away in the August 17 landslides at Jodupala, 14 km from Madikeri on the Kodagu-Dakshina Kannada border.

A distraught Somaiah, a 46-year-old labourer, has been carrying Manjula’s photograph with him ever since.

Manjula was studying at the Made Maheshwara High School. She lived with her father’s sister Gouramma in Made village as her native Bettadahalli village had no proper bus services.

“There’s only one bus that comes to my village, for which she had to walk three km. So, my sister suggested that Manjula live with them so that she can go to school easily,” Somaiah says.

On August 17, Manjula was at home with her aunt Gouramma, her husband Basappa and their daughter Monisha when a landslide struck at about 8.30 am. The calamity wiped out their house entirely, sweeping away its inhabitants. “Basappa’s body was found the same day nearby. Monisha’s body was found in a mud pile about 300 metres away from the house on August 19. My sister Gouramma was found stuck in a tree by a bridge near Abbey Falls on August 24,” Somaiah recounts.

Rescue personnel found some bones on the Jodupala-Madikeri highway late last month. “But it was later declared that they were bones of an animal.”

Somaiah, whose wife and three other sons are safe, urged the district authorities to conduct searches in three specific locations where he suspects his daughter’s body could be found.

“I can’t search myself because these places are filled with mud and debris.

“It’ll take a backhoe to clear them. But authorities aren’t in a position to search too and I don’t know why,” he rues.

Manjula’s case has been classified under the ‘missing persons’ category. “If her body hasn’t been found till now, it’s likely that it’ll never be found,” an official says. Somaiah appears to have lost hope now. “It’s scheduled for 10.30 am in Jodupala,” he says of the last rites. “It must be done.”