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Man dies outside bank in Mumbai, kin say not related to cash crisis

Family says he suffered from health issues, nothing to do with the demonetisation issue.

People wait to withdraw and deposit their money at an ATM kiosk in Kolkata, India, November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri

A 73-YEAR-OLD Mulund resident died of a suspected heart attack Friday morning at a bank where he had gone to exchange demonetised currency. The deceased Vishwanath Vartak, a retired Public Works Department (PWD) employee, was in front of the State Bank of India (SBI) branch in Mulund (east) to exchange Rs 4,000 when he collapsed.

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The incident took place at Hari Om Nagar in Mulund (east) outside the SBI branch around 11.30 am. Senior Inspector of Navghar police station Madhav More said the bank branch was hardly 100 metres away from where Vartak lived with his wife. “Vartak had been suffering from high blood pressure for the past 20 years. As he reached the SBI bank branch and was climbing the stairs leading to the bank, he started feeling giddy and his hands and legs started to shiver,” More said. He added, “There was no crowd outside the bank when he started feeling uneasy.”

As Vartak reached the bank, he told a few people standing nearby that his hands were shivering and he was not feeling well. The people assembled there took him aside and gave him water. “They thought he was having an epileptic fit and hence also tried making him smell onions to get him to regain consciousness. In the meantime, some people called the local medical practitioner. By the time the doctor reached the spot, Vartak had succumbed to what seems like a heart attack,” More said.

Vartak’s two sons, who also live near the bank, were informed by the police and he was taken to a local hospital. “We have sent his body to the Rajawadi hospital for the post-mortem report,” the senior inspector said. He added, “He had been battling health issues for the last two decades. It does not seem that the crowd had anything to do with him having suffered a heart attack. He was already feeling uneasy even before he entered the bank and there was no queue there. The post-mortem report will clarify the issue further,” the senior inspector said.

Kamlesh Hireshwar, the security guard who was present when the incident took place, said, “I was in the bank when a customer came rushing in saying someone had collapsed just outside the bank. I rushed out and tried to revive him but he didn’t respond to anything.” He added, “He did not even enter the bank so there is no question of him standing in line.”

A relative of the deceased said, “The family is upset that the media is linking his death to the demonetisation issue. He had been having health issues for a while and his death has nothing to do with him being in the bank.”

According to the medical officer, the senior citizen was brought dead to Veer Savarkar Hospital in Mulund by Friday evening. “He had no physical injuries and we referred the case to Rajawadi Hospital for post-mortem,” the officer said.

According to him, Vartak was suffering from hypertension for over seven years. He was on medication and undergoing treatment for it. According to his son, Aniruddh, Vartak only had age-related health problems.

The port-mortem was carried out at Rajawadi Hospital. According to a medical officer, who was part of the autopsy, it seemed that Vartak had suffered a heart attack. “He was battling no illness and was healthy. But his heart was weak due to old age,” the medical officer said. Vartak’s organs have been reserved for histopathology to determine the final cause of death. He had no history of heart attacks, the officer said.




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