AFTER THE ill-fated fire at the Russian hostel that engulfed her life, there has been no closure for Parvati resident Snehal Bhosale, who lost her elder daughter Karishma on this day, a year ago. Karishma died in a fire at the hostel dormitory of Russia’s Smolensk State Medical Academy. The fire broke out a few hours after Karishma had sent a Whatsapp message to her mother telling her that she is her Valentine.
One year later, the wounds are still afresh and the family says there will be no closure till there is justice. “It’s been a year since my daughter died and we have not even received the post-mortem report yet. The university sent us a condolence letter and that’s it. There has been so communication from them on what happened, who was responsible, what action they are taking. Nothing at all. The Indian Embassy in Russia is hardly in touch with us. They have told us that a case has been filed by them against the university and that four people are arrested. Today, is the final hearing in the case, exactly one year later,” said Uday Bhosale, father of deceased girl, Karishma Bhosale.
The girl had gone to Smolensk in 2012 to study medicine and was in her fourth year MBBS when the incident occurred. The last one year has been a constant struggle for the family, which had mortgaged their two-BHK residence at Laxmi Nagar to pay for the Rs 18 lakh course fee for Karishma. Their son lost a year of his academic career and the mother hasn’t stepped out of home ever since.
“Our lives changed completely. The banks have started calling us because of debts. My son is too young to work. He has already lost a year as his SSC exams were in March and his sister died just 15 days prior to the paper. He couldn’t appear for his exams then and cleared them in October, and now will go to Std XII. On family front, my wife has stopped going out, she doesn’t meet too many people. And the university has not bothered to get back. They are still giving advertisements in newspapers here, still admitting Indian students. Why isn’t the government putting an end to this?,” said Bhosale.
The father alleged that the Russian university is merely treating medical education as a money-making business. “The university didn’t even inform us of the time of death. When the pundit performing my daughter’s last rites asked me for the time of death, we didn’t know,” he said.
Karishma wasn’t alone at the time of the incident. Another Indian student, Pooja Kallur, who was her roommate hailing from Navi Mumbai, died in the accident.
Kallur’s father Siddappa said he borrowed money from relatives and friends to send the girl to Russia for medical education. “The incident occurred but at least we expected that we get clear answers on what happened. If not from the university, then at least our Embassy should give us a reply. Presently, we don’t even know who is appearing on our behalf, who is pleading the case, what evidence is presented and so on. All that the Embassy has told us is that February 14 is final hearing in case. Even these replies came after we wrote to the Prime Minister. We were even ready to go to Russia for the hearing if they gave us a ticket but we got no reply on that front too,” he said.
Meanwhile in Pune, the Bhosale family has organised a blood and eye donation camp to mark Karishma’s first death anniversary. “Her brother organised it, this is what she would have liked,” said her father.