“Papa, you go ahead, I will come, let the crowd thin out,” 25-year-old Shraddha Varpe told her father as the two tried to make their way out of the Parel railway station in central Mumbai Friday morning.
Those were her last words. Kishore Varpe (57), her father, managed to cross the footbridge connecting the Parel and Elphinstone Road railway stations when a deadly stampede began.
He searched for her frantically, only to find that she was among its victims, said a tearful Bhimrao Dhulap, Varpe’s close relative who accompanied him to the mortuary of KEM Hospital in the afternoon.
At least 22 lives were lost in the tragedy.
Varpe sat in a corner of the mortuary’s waiting area, remembering his daughter’s last words and crying.
Both Shraddha and her father worked at the Labour Welfare Board on the Elphinstone road. They travelled to the office together from their house in distant Vitthalwadi in neighbouring Thane district.
They alighted at the Parel station around 10.15 am today and headed for the footbridge which was as usual overcrowded.
Suddenly it started raining, and the crowd on the bridge swelled. Kishore was propelled forward by pressing bodies, while Shraddha was stuck behind, Dhulap said.
Kishore called out to her, and she asked him to go ahead, saying she will wait for the crowd to disperse.
After getting out on other side, Kishore called her on mobile phone, but there was no response. “It was all over in ten minutes, just ten minutes,” he said, sobbing uncontrollably.