Sanjay Pashte has been at a local hospital for the past few days for hypertension and diabetes-related issues. For this reason, his family has still not told him about the death of his 21-year-old son Pratik in the fire at the Serum Institute of India’s facility in Manjri on Thursday. Five labourers died in the fire, including Pratik, who was involved in the work of inverter installation.
“We haven’t informed Sanjay that his son is no more,” Ganesh Ghanekar, Pratik’s maternal uncle said. The last rites were performed by Sanjay’s elder brother at Vaikunth crematorium, while Pratik’s mother Nutan has been inconsolable.
The family lives in a small house across lane number 14 at Prabhat Road in Pune’s Deccan area. A family member said anonymously it was painful to identify Pratik’s body at the Sassoon General Hospital: “It was charred and blackened. We had to identify Pratik from his clothes and other belongings”.
Pratik was studying for a diploma in telecommunication at a private institute and also working for a private inverter firm. His senior colleague, Mahendra Ingle (30), also died in the fire on Thursday. Pratik and Ingle had gone to the Manjri facility for inverter-related that afternoon.
“Employees of the firm, where Pratik was working, often visited the tea stall run by his parents. This is how Pratik got to know about this firm, which is located nearby. He joined the firm as a trainee over a year ago. Recently, the firm had got an order from SII. So, Pratik and Ingle went there on Thursday afternoon for a site visit and took materials for inverter installation. They were about to start work on Friday, but died in the fire,” Ghanekar said.
Pratik was keen on getting a well-paying job. He was earning about Rs 12,000 per month and funded his own educational expenses, Ghanekar said. Ingle was a resident of Pune’s Narhe area of Pune. Family members took his body to their native place in Akola for last rites.
Besides Pratik and Ingle, three others, identified as Bipin Saroj (21), Rama Shankar Harijan (19), both residents of UP’s Pratapgarh and Sushil Kumar Pande (26) of Bihar’s Champaran district, died in the fire. As per the post-mortem reports from Sassoon Hospital, all died of shock due to burns and suffocation.
While family members and relatives of bodies of Pashte and Ingle were handed over the bodies late on Thursday night, Pande’s relatives identified the body and headed towards Bihar in an ambulance. Fakhre Aalam, who hails from Pande’s hometown in Champaran, Bihar accompanied the body and said a majority of the labourers were working since a month or two at the site.
At the hospital on Friday morning, relatives and acquaintances of Bipin Saroj and Rama Shankar Harijan waited for the bodies. Only at 4.30 p.m did their wait end. Bipin’s brother Avinash, who was also at the site of the fire but escaped unscathed, said his father had arrived from Pratapgarh, and would return home after collecting their belongings. “I don’t want to come back,” Avinash said.
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