Excited to go shopping for Dussehra, Rohit Parab (11) wore an orange t-shirt on Friday as he stepped out with his brother Akash Parab (19). That was the last time their mother, Ankita Parab, saw him. Rohit was the youngest of the 22 killed in the stampede on the foot overbridge of Elphinstone Road station on Friday morning.
His father Ankush Parab, who owns a flower shop, said: “They had gone to buy flowers from the Parel market to sell at our Vikhroli shop for Dussehra.” At 11 am, Ankita got a call from Akash. She has not stopped crying since, he said. “He (Akash) said they had been injured in the stampede and were brought to KEM’s emergency ward,” Ankush said.
The couple rushed to KEM Hospital to find their younger son’s body wrapped in a white sheet in a corridor with 21 others. In casualty ward 20A, where Akash lay with a right leg and femur fracture, a ripped jeans hung by his cot. His only pair of jeans.
Akash, a second-year college student, said: “I held Rohit’s hand tight. But the crowd kept growing. I lost him and got buried under people. Others pulled me out.” The last image he has of his brother is that of him getting smothered in a pile of mounting bodies.
Akash lost flowers worth Rs 2,000, his sandals and a wallet in the stampede. He keeps asking: “How is Rohit?”
“How can I tell him in this state?” cried Ankita. Rohit studied in Class IV. He was excited to shop for Dussehra on Saturday and had skipped school on Friday.
According to Hospital Dean Dr Avinash Supe, Rohit suffered chest injuries. Maximum deaths occurred due to injuries to the chest or the head, he said. “Post-mortem findings will indicate further. But in stampede situations, deceased sustain trauma injuries, some critical to the head, that cause deaths, while most suffer from suffocation,” he said.
In the casualty ward, as a half-conscious Akash lay in a cot, his mother clutched three blood vials in her hand, which she was supposed to take for tests.
Ankush said: “Our son is gone. We want to stay with our only son who is alive.” Ankita, who works as a domestic help, said: “Dussehra has no meaning now.”