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Friday, May 07, 2021

‘He is gone, but we do not want anyone else to die like this’

Among those The Indian Express spoke to was a mother who lost her only child, a man who lost her mother on her birthday, a disabled child who lost his mother and a son who was seen clicking his father’s charred face on his phone as a last memory.

Written by Jayprakash S Naidu | Mumbai |
Updated: April 24, 2021 4:05:38 am
mumbai covid-19, mumbai coronavirus cases, mumbai news, indian expressA survivor of Vijay Vallabh Hospital fire. (Deepak Joshi)

On Friday morning, the Viratnagar Shamshan Bhumi in Virar (west) was filled with the cries of family members of those who died in the hospital fire, as they waited for their turn to perform the last rites.

Among those The Indian Express spoke to was a mother who lost her only child, a man who lost her mother on her birthday, a disabled child who lost his mother and a son who was seen clicking his father’s charred face on his phone as a last memory.

The fire shattered Rajashri Raut’s dreams. Her only child, 23-year-old Amey Raut, a chartered accountant student, died in the fire. Amey lived with his mother in Virar (east) and was doing two jobs while studying for his CA exams. Amey’s father died six years ago. He was a bright student and had cleared two papers of CA exams, a family member said.

Speaking with The Indian Express, Raut said, “I got a call from a relative at 5 am telling me to rush to hospital because a fire had broken out. I rushed there in a rickshaw and asked a hospital staffer about my son. He said my son is dead. He was my only child, and very young… majha sonya gela.”

Amey had spoken with his mother and other relatives on video call around 10 last night. “His oxygen level had improved. He was admitted three days ago and was to be discharged in two days. He is gone, but we do not want anyone else to die like this. I hope and pray that the police and government give us justice,” said his cousin Shreya.

Prasanna Kangutkar lost his mother, Uma Kangutkar, 63, on her birthday. An inconsolable Kangutkar said, “Just last night we had a video call. She told me not to spend a lot on her treatment. But I told her I would do anything to get her back home. I had lost my job in the lockdown and was planning to start a shop. I told her I wanted her to inaugurate it. She was so happy, and her oxygen level stabilized on Thursday night. I cannot imagine this is happening. I want those responsible to be punished.”

Supriya Deshmukh, 43, died in the fire, leaving behind her 12-year-old disabled son. Deshmukh worked for a cement company. Her sister Bhakti Save, 41, a nurse said, “My sister was critical. We wanted to shift her to a better hospital but there were no beds available. Her child cannot live without her. Her husband is shattered. We will not get her back, but we want justice for her. That is the only way we will get closure.”

Businessman Kundan Vaishnav’s father Pukhraj, 68, died in the fire. Vaishnav, 40 said, “For three days I was trying to get my father discharged as they wanted to put him on a ventilator. My father used to tell me they were not even providing water on time. We made all medical arrangements like getting oxygen cylinders, medicines and a nurse at home, just like the ICU, but before we could take discharge this incident took place. I had no idea this hospital was facing so many issues. Action should be taken.”

A young man was the last person left at the crematorium to receive his father’s body. He declined to comment and looked shaken. His father was charred to death in the fire. After identifying him before the police, the man asked the mortuary staff to open the plastic bag one more time and clicked a photograph of his father’s charred face.

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