Dubai: Since September last year, Mohammad Farhan, the Indian boy who died after being left behind in a minibus on Saturday, commuted to his weekly Quran class with Ahmad.
The six-year-old, who was a grade one student of a Dubai school, would often fall asleep during the Saturday morning commute. Ahmad, 12, was the one who would wake him up when they reached Al Manar Islamic Centre in Al Quoz for their 8.30am class.
But on June 15, Ahmad’s father Khalid decided to drop Ahmad and his two other siblings, who are also students of the centre, in his car as the latter were not ready by the time the bus reached their home.
“If Ahmad had gone in the bus, this tragedy might not have happened,” a heart-broken Khalid told Gulf News on Sunday.
His wife Sameera said Ahmad was among the first few children, who found Farhan collapsed in the bus, when they boarded it after they finished the class at 3pm.
The little boy had been left locked inside the bus after all other children got down from the bus.
Khalid said the bus driver was new as the regular driver was on leave.
An official with Dubai police told Gulf News that the driver had taken the bus to his home and parked it while the boy was still inside.
“The child might have been sleeping when the driver drove home and parked the bus. Later when he drove it back to the centre, the children entered the bus again and they found the boy inside,” said the official.
The police believe the boy was unable to open the window or call for help as he might have fainted due to high temperature inside the bus and died eventually.
Sameera said Ahmad had not realised Farhan had already breathed his last when he saw him collapsed inside the bus. “He still hasn’t comprehended it deeply. When he saw me getting emotional he just told me to think that Farhan has gone to heaven.”
However, another student, who also saw the motionless body of Farhan, has been deeply affected, said a family friend. He said the child was emotional and kept asking if Farhan woke up.
He feared that it may take some time for children who have been scarred by the incident to come to terms with it.
Laid to rest
On Sunday evening, hundreds of people bid tearful adieu to Farhan, at his funeral in Dubai. Relatives, neighbours, family friends and some students and members of the centre, joined his grieving family at the prayer and burial ceremony in the Al Quoz graveyard.
Memories of Farhan, the youngest and only brother of three sisters, teared up many attendees.
A family friend earlier told Gulf News that Farhan, who was born after a gap of many years, was the closest to his father. Tragedy struck his family just weeks ahead of his eldest sister’s marriage scheduled to be held on July 25.
The family was scheduled to fly home later this month for the wedding preparations.
The Al Manar Islamic Centre, meanwhile, remained closed when Gulf News visited it on Sunday.
In a statement on Sunday, the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department, which oversees the Islamic study centres and Quran classes, said it had offered its condolences to the family of Farhan.
“We are following up on the accident in the centre and waiting to finish the investigation by the authorities concerned as the responsibility lies on the centre.”
(Note: Names of Ahmad and his parents have been changed on request)