A year on, kin of El­phin­stone stam­pede vic­tims in­con­solable; pay tear­ful homage

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - TE ST - Aseem Gu­jar Full re­port on dnain­dia.com

I spoke to Meena once dur­ing her lunchtime. Never did I imag­ine that a 10-minute rain­fall would de­cide her fate. Ra­jini, sis­ter of a vic­tim

Rel­a­tives and friends of those who lost their lives in the El­phin­stone Road foot-over­bridge stam­pede were in­con­solable as they lit can­dles on the first an­niver­sary of the tragic in­ci­dent. Rail­way of­fi­cials, po­lice of­fi­cers and com­muters also lit can­dles out­side the bridge at around 10:30 am when the stam­pede had oc­curred last year.

The rel­a­tives of Meena Wal­hekar, who died in the in­ci­dent, had asked per­mis­sion from the Rail­ways to or­gan­ise a candle march on the eve of the in­ci­dent dur­ing the day, just be­side the bridge.

Re­call­ing the fate­ful day, a teary-eyed Ra­jini, Meena’s elder sis­ter, said, “It was a day be­fore Dussehra. Meena left home for of­fice a lit­tle ear­lier than usual since. I spoke to her once dur­ing the day in her lunchtime. Never did I imag­ine that a 10-minute rain­fall would de­cide her fate.”

While hand­ing out can­dles to the passerby who paused to pay homage, Meena’s brother Shamu Wal­hekar said, “It was the rail­way’s fault un­doubt­edly. I am glad that two new bridges have been built. Had they built the bridges on time, my sis­ter would have been alive.” he said.

Far from the crowd, Ankush Parab sobbed un­con­trol­lably. He had come alone, leav­ing his wife and a trau­ma­tised son home. Parab’s younger son Ro­hit, aged 12, died of a car­diac ar­rest in the stam­pede. His other son, Aakash aged 19, sur­vived with se­ri­ous leg in­juries.

“His frac­ture re­quired surgery to in­sert a plate and screws. He can’t even walk prop­erly,” said Parab, who shifted from one bill­board to an­other show­ing the pho­tos of his two sons who had come to buy flow­ers on the fate­ful day, un­sure of whom he grieved more.

—HEMANT PADALKAR/DNA

Ankush Parab, who lost his 12-year-son in the stam­pede, pays a trib­ute to ev­ery­one who lost their lives in the stam­pede

—HEMANT PADALKAR/DNA

Rail­way of­fi­cials along with cit­i­zens pay their trib­ute to those who lost their lives in the stam­pede on its 1st an­niver­sary

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