Injured stampede victim Akash Parab was on Tuesday discharged from KEM hospital, the last among 38 injured commuters, after spending 18 days undergoing a surgery and recuperating with psychiatric counselling. The 19-year-old said he has expressed his wish to now join the Western Railway to officials who came to meet him in the hospital.
“I want to work at the ticket counter or under some capacity to help railway commuters. I had thought about joining railways when I was studying, but after the stampede I am sure about it,” he said, nursing his right fractured thigh on a hospital cot in ward 25. “There is no provision for providing jobs to injured victims. Even if the victim officially requests, we will explain it is not possible to them,” said Mukul Jain, divisional railway manager of WR.
With a day left for Diwali, the family of the victim said their yearly ritual to hold pooja together and go for shopping was not to be after they lost their younger son Rohit in the stampede on September 29.
A stampede following heavy rain and overcrowding had killed 23 and injured 38 commuters on Elphinstone station’s foot over bridge. Rohit (11), who had come to Parel market with elder brother Akash to shop for flowers, was the youngest victim in the stampede. Their parents had not informed Akash about Rohit’s death fearing he would slip into depression. The hospital’s head of psychiatry department Dr Shubhangi Parkar personally broke the news and counselled Akash over multiple sessions.
“When we told him about Rohit’s death, he said he remembered seeing an unconscious Rohit pulled out from the stampede. He had an inkling that Rohit may not survive,” said mother Ankita Parab.
“I remember fragments from the stampede. People started pushing from top, I fell on a woman. When I regained consciousness I looked underneath me and found the same woman dead and bleeding. Seeing blood I fainted again. Then I remember seeing my brother next to me when we were pulled out. He was lying on ground and did not respond to my calls,” said Akash, a Commerce student.
Rohit was declared brought dead at KEM hospital. Post-mortem findings suggested he might have suffered a shock and heart attack that led to his death. The family has so far received Rs 10 lakh compensation from the railways and the Chief Minister’s Fund. “Our flower shop has remained shut since the stampede,” said father Ankush Parab, resident of Vikhroli.
Akash will be on bed rest for two more months. He underwent a surgery to put a rod in his thigh bone after sustaining a femur fracture. “Since it is Diwali, we thought the family may want to stay at home. He is stable but may require follow-ups later,” said KEM dean Dr Avinash Supe, adding that all other patients were discharged within days of stampede.
According to psychiatric head Parkar, Akash might need regular sessions for two months to help him cope with the loss of his brother. “I don’t feel scared of that bridge, I don’t know why. Other injured had bad dreams. I think because I remained unconscious I don’t remember most of the stampede,” said Akash.