Malegaon: Shehnaz, the little girl orphaned in the serial blasts that ripped apart Malegaon and her life, has now another hurdle to clear before her life can return to some semblance of normalcy.
Nearly a month after the blasts, a woman claiming to be the child's aunt is demanding her custody.
The 10-year-old girl lost her mother and sustained severe injuries herself in a blast when the two of them were visiting her father's grave. Her brother, himself just 14, reached her three days later after travelling from Madhya Pradesh, where he was working in a streetside teashop. The boy went home on his own after hearing about the blasts from TV news channels.
But Shehnaz's ordeal is far from over. Three weeks after the blasts, a woman claiming to be her aunt, has asked for Shehnaz's custody, as well as her other three siblings. Sabra Banu says, "I want all the three children to live together and I will look after them. Shehnaz has also said that she will stay with me."
Those should sound like words of comfort and relief to Shehnaz and her brothers, but for a twist in the tale. On Saturday, Sabra allegedly tried to whisk away Shehnaz from the hospital, local police say. Later, the police launched a hunt for them and brought them back.
The reason for Sabra's alleged attempt to disappear with the child are not difficult to figure out.
"A compensation of Rs 1,50,000 has been deposited in the name of the three children and they will receive the money once they become adults. Till then, they will receive the interest amount every month," Devidas Chaudhary, sub-district magistrate, revealed.
Shehnaz will undergo another week of treatment at the hospital before being shifted to the government childrens' home. She could be adopted legally, but only after necessary legal formalities are completed.
Till then, it's a lonely battle for Shehnaz against her injuries and mental trauma.