Mumbai: 3 girls fall into sea while ‘clicking selfie’, man drowns in rescue bid

Two girls rescued; police boats, trawlers, Coast Guard helicopter search for victims.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai | Updated: January 10, 2016 12:12 pm
selfie, selfie drown, mumbai selfie case, mumbai selfie girls, mumbai police, mumbai coast guard, mumbai news A rescuer is lowered from a helicopter to search for the victims. (Pradip Das)

Ramesh Walunj was praying at a temple overlooking the sea on Saturday morning when he heard screams for help from the direction of the Bandra Fort below. Losing no time but not forgetting his just-packed tiffin box, the 40-year-old rushed down the steps and raced on the slippery rocks on to the edge of a small cliff where he was told that three girls had fallen into the water while taking a selfie on their phones.

The girls are residents of Baiganwadi in Govandi and had studied together until Class 12. Tarannum Ansari (18) had since joined SNDT College in Ghatkopar, while Anjum Khan (19) and Masturi Khan (19) studied at Mehta College in Chembur and Rajiv Gandhi College in Navi Mumbai respectively.

“They planned to go to Bandra Fort on Saturday morning. They walked to the edge of the rocks and were taking pictures when a large wave hit them from behind. The girls lost balance and fell,” said Ramachandran Dhawale, senior inspector, Bandra police station. He added that while Tarannum and Anjum fell into the water, Masturi did not and she tried to help them get out. By then, Dhawale added, Ramesh had arrived and helped Masturi pull out Anjum.

Eyewitnesses say Ramesh was the only one among the onlookers who went into the water after Tarannum, while others watched on. “The third girl had been washed some 15 feet away from the shore. Ramesh is a good swimmer and reached her but once she grabbed hold of him, the tide swept them away,” said Ramesh’s neighbour Raju Makwana.

The police version is different, however, and states that Ramesh swam some distance, but turned when he couldn’t spot her and he was washed away by a wave.
The police reached the spot past 11 am, some 15 minutes after Ramesh was last seen and could only identify him using the wallet that he had left behind with his clothes and lunch box. “They found his driving licence inside and came to our house,” said Suresh Sawant, a maternal uncle who had met Ramesh just 10 minutes before he went to the temple.

Initially, two Mumbai Police boats and fishing trawlers were pressed into the search and rescue operations, but by 4 pm, a Coast Guard helicopter had also been called in.

While the search operation was called off later due to fading light, Chief Fire Officer of the Mumbai Fire Brigade Prabhat Rahangdale said it would resume on Sunday. “It is a very rocky and dangerous beach where people sit despite warnings not to do so. We will continue the operations to find the missing persons,” he said. Another fire brigade official added the stretch of sea between Worli and Santacruz was being searched, though chances of finding Tarannum and Ramesh alive were minimal.

Anjum was admitted to the ICU at Bhabha Hospital and discharged at 6.30 pm after being given first aid and treated for shock, the police said. The police recorded statements of Anjum and Masturi and allowed them to go home.

Ramesh, a resident of Jaffar Baba Colony, a hilltop slum overlooking the Bandra Worli Sea Link, worked was a driver with a family living at Bandstand. Accustomed to leaving home at 8.30 am, he was told by his employer on Saturday morning to report to work a few hours late.

“He left home at 10.30 am after I packed his lunch box. But since he had time on his hands, he went to the temple to sit there for some time,” said Ramesh’s distraught wife Kalpana. He leaves behind daughters Raveena (16) and Mansi (14) and son Hriday, who will turn three years in April. A natural swimmer like many of his neighbours, Ramesh was the sort of man who helped out in a crisis, neighbours say.

“He has saved two lives but we have lost the only earning member of our family,” wailed his sister, Jayashree Chavan.

Ramesh only took the trail atop the fort and out its gate to reach Bandstand on days when he was late to work. Another neighbour Pushpa Kajule recalled running into Ramesh only 24 hours before the incident.

“He was holding his tiffin box and running down the steps. He told me he was late for work. I can’t believe I had such a normal conversation with him only a day ago,”
she said.

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First Published on: January 10, 2016 1:37 am
  1. S
    Shoeb Siddique
    Jan 10, 2016 at 5:32 am
    Unbelievable human being, we have lost a great soul.
    Reply
    1. V
      Vaishali
      Jan 10, 2016 at 2:47 pm
      that stupid and over confident girls and their family must have to look after and take responsibility of the family of ramesh
      Reply
      1. A
        abhijit
        Mar 30, 2016 at 3:39 pm
        does mumbai coast have special rescue boat team who can rescue 100 people lt;br/gt;coz no one knows what will happen in emergency lt;br/gt;does government made anysoluion about rescue
        Reply
        1. A
          Abdullah Shiham
          Jan 10, 2016 at 2:05 pm
          We salute for your bravery Ramesh! You are true hero for all of us. People like you can change this world to a better place. You will be in our hearts forever.
          Reply
          1. K
            Kaliyug
            Jan 10, 2016 at 7:01 pm
            Allah said wear your Burqas and stop taking selfies!
            Reply
            1. K
              Kaliyug
              Jan 10, 2016 at 6:21 pm
              If you do not know how to swim please stay far away from water, just like fire water is a great slave and a bad master.
              Reply
              1. K
                Kolsat
                Jan 10, 2016 at 3:00 am
                My heart goes out to Late Shri Walunj. He lost his life due to the stupidity of these girls. Indians generally do not obey instructions. Some 4 years back in Adelaide, Australia Indian students had gone to a tourist spot one of them decided to be adventurous and crossed the fence the sign on which warned people not cross. Yet he did and fellon the rocks below and died. This selfie craze makes people forget where they are. Now it has taken two lives and left the others to face the trauma for the rest of their lives.
                Reply
                1. G
                  Gyanesh
                  Jan 10, 2016 at 5:58 am
                  Now it is the duty of society to look after the dependent of the brave man to share his responsibilities.
                  Reply
                  1. J
                    Jagdish Maratha
                    Jan 10, 2016 at 7:21 am
                    I salute the great man who gave his life to save others. I hope we can take care of his family..!! such men are very few..!!
                    Reply
                    1. J
                      jsingh
                      Jan 10, 2016 at 4:27 am
                      Shir Walunj has shown his bravery and ending up losing his precious life sadly in india pan chewing corrupted low grade brain function government's babus will considered his action as stupidiness . HAT OFF TO HIS SACRIFICE
                      Reply
                      1. r
                        ramu (USA)
                        Jan 10, 2016 at 2:31 am
                        How Sad! Brave man though, trying to save the third girl.
                        Reply
                        1. S
                          Sattar Shaikh
                          Jan 11, 2016 at 4:27 am
                          Kindly publish the address and his account number, so we can help to his family.
                          Reply
                          1. S
                            Swamy
                            Jan 10, 2016 at 5:48 am
                            These days it's really difficult to find this sort of people.The current stock of people loose no time to preach hatred and destroy life misusing religion.A gentle soul Ramesh lost his lost saving others,may Lord rest his soul in peace.
                            Reply
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