The village square at Ambedkar Nagar in Dahanu wore a sombre look on Saturday evening as hundreds gathered to mourn the death of three young girls who lost their lives when a boat capsized off Parnaka beach. The three girls — Sanskruti Mayavanshi, Sonal Surati and Jahnavi Surati — were classmates and neighbours. While Sonal and Sanskruti lived across the road from each other, Jahnavi lived a few metres away.
Even as a stream of villagers came by to pay their respects at their shanty, Sanskruti’s father Suryakant Mayavanshi was inconsolable. Sanskruti’s mother, older sister and younger brother wept beside her body.
“She was the last one to be found. Of the three children, she was the younger daughter. She was in Class 11, and was only 17 years old,” said Chandan Mayavanshi, Sanskruti’s uncle. Across the road, Sonal’s two sisters held each other as they wept in a two-room settlement. Sonal was the youngest.
“Nobody had seen this coming. The boat service had started only a week ago. Now we hear that it was illegal,” said Dheeraj Surati, Jahnavi’s uncle.
As the three dead bodies proceeded together for the funeral, a pall of gloom descended on the entire village. There were many who had seen the three grow up. “Most people in this village are related. I’d seen them grow up in front of us,” said a neighbour, who did not want to be named.
Minutes before the boat capsized, some of the students on board had shared pictures of the ferry ride with their friends on social media. “A friend sent some pictures on board the ferry. I’d seen the pictures, and now I can’t believe that three of my friends are dead. There were more students on the boat than its capacity,” said Pragati Madia, a classmate of the three.
In a house just two lanes from the village square, Karina Mayavanshi was trying her best to come to terms with what had happened on the day. She was on board the ferry when it capsized, and while she was rescued, three of her friends lost their lives. There were seven children from the village on the boat that capsized off Parnaka beach in Dahanu.