Of the nearly 75 lakh commuters who take the trains in Mumbai every day, between eight and 10 do not make it home. Ronak Zaveri, 26, was one of them, only his death on September 29 was overshadowed by events at the Elphinstone Road Railway station, where a stampede killed 23 people.
Ronak, a resident of a sprawling residential complex in Nallasopara East, fell off a suburban train headed towards Vasai station at 9.20 am, minutes after he boarded at Nallasopara. Away from the Elphinstone tragedy, he was among four people who lost their lives on the city’s rail network that day.
As per records with the Maharashtra Police, there have been 2,221 deaths on Mumbai’s rail networks so far this year — an average of 8-10 deaths a day. Of these, 1,507 bodies remain unidentified.
The stretch where Ronak fell is among the worst, and along with Thane and Wadala railways stations, has accounted for 525 deaths this year.
A day after cremating their son, Ronak’s parents Viren Zaveri, who is wheelchair-bound, and Sudha Zaveri, moved out of their third-floor home overlooking the railway tracks. A neighbour said the Zaveri family had rented the home only a year ago. “They told us that they would stay with a relative for a few weeks,” said a neighbour.
Two hours after Ronak’s accident, a motorman easing a slow train into Vasai railway station at 11.25 am told police he suddenly spotted a half-naked man in the train’s path. “I kept blowing the hooter but he did not take note,” the motorman told police. “I applied the emergency brakes but the man was too close and was hit by the train.”
The man, Vikas Chaudhary (52), had wandered away from home and was identified after his brother Sandesh’s search brought him to Vasai station.
The third death on September 29 was recorded between Tilak Nagar and Wadala railway stations that evening. At 5.12 pm, the body of Pune native John Abraham was found on the tracks. He had been making his way across the tracks when a passing train hit him.
The last words that Geetadevi Chaudhary, 50, heard from her son Anil,21, on September 28 were: “I will come to meet you soon”.
Anil, a resident of Bhola Nagar in Kalwa, near Thane city, was a painter and would travel to Khare Gaon, a village on the outskirts of Kalwa, every day. Between 7.30 pm and 8 pm, he died after being hit by a train while trying to cross the tracks.
Anil’s body remained unclaimed for two days before concerned relatives found him.
“Anil and my younger brother travelled together to Kalwa,” says Nebulal Chaudhary, the victim’s cousin, adding that Anil earned around Rs 18,000 a month, most of which he sent to his family in Basti village, near Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh.