Death toll in Mumbai’s Elphinstone foot overbridge stampede rises to 23

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Hiloni, 22

Her aunt Bharati Arya, who was also at the hospital, said Hiloni’s mother had kept a fast in Navratri for her well-being, and nobody had the heart to tell her that Hiloni was no more. “Her parents and her grandparents were so happy when she completed her chartered accountancy and found a job. Why did this happen to our girl,” Arya said.

Rohit Parab, 11

Resident of Vikhroli, student

Rohit, and his elder brother Aakash, decided they’ll help their father on one of the busiest days of his life. Their father Ankush Parab runs a flower shop in Dadar, and on Dussehra eve, he doesn’t have time to even sip water. “The boys were supposed to join me at the shop in the afternoon,” a sobbing Parab said, unable to come to terms with his youngest son’s death. Aakash, who suffered a fracture in the foot, wasn’t told of Rohit’s death

Alex Corriea, 61

Resident of Virar, sold flowers at Dadar

Alex Corriea looked forward to Dussehra and Diwali because this period is peak season in flower business. He’s been selling flowers at the Dadar market for the last 35 years, and would take a Virar fast from Dadar to return home. On Friday, however, he decided to go to Elphinstone Road station due to huge rush at Dadar.

Corriea’s brother-in-law Paul Gonsalves said Corriea wanted to retire after his younger son Maxvin married next month.

“He worked hard to educate his two sons. He never took leave, and worked every evening from 4 pm to 9 pm. He would be up by 3 am the next day, and sold flowers from 4 am to 9 am,” Gonsalves said.

Ankush Jaiswal, 36

Resident of Dadar, he was an engineer

Ankush Jaiswal was the sole earning member of his family comprising his mother, wife, and the couple’s 10-year-old son. He had a field job, and was on an assignment when he got trapped on the killer FOB on Friday. His friend Jay said Jaiswal’s father died a couple of years ago, and Jaiswal had shouldered the family responsibilities since. “A man who toiled day and night for his family has met such an end. This is injustice,” Jay said.

Shubha Shetty, 45 Sujata Alava, 45

Residents of Kanjurmarg, the two were housewives

Neighbours of inseparable friends Shubha and Sujata said such was the bond between the two that they were fated to die together. Every Dussehra eve, the two would go shopping for flowers at the Dadar market. On Friday, in keeping with their yearly routine, they had left their homes early, never to return.

“We just can’t believe what has happened,” said Shubha’s family friend Dayanand Shetty. “The women left for Dadar after their husbands went to work. Both families and the couples’ friends are absolutely devastated.” Shubha leaves behind a daughter while Sujata was mom of two, Shetty said.

Chandrabhaga Ingale, 50

Resident of Kanjurmarg, she was a house help

Ingale was on her way to the Dadar market to buy flowers for Dussehra. Saturday would have been a rare day off from work for Ingale, who had shouldered her family’s responsibility after her husband, a loader, was diagnosed with heart ailment. “She had seven children and her youngest child is a 10-year-old girl,” Ingale’s brother Raju said. “My sister would go hungry to fund her kids’ education. She certainly did not deserve to die such a death,” he said.

Vijay Bahadur, 50

Resident of Ghansoli, he was a tailor

“A poor man has lost his life. Tomorrow, everyone, including the media, will forget who Vijay Bahadur was,” said his friend Hansraj Kanojia. Bahadur, worked at a private firm in Dadar, was on his way to office when he died in the stampede. “He leaves behind a wife and an 18-year-old son. There’s nobody to look after them now,” Kanojia said.

Suresh Jaiswal, 50

Resident of Andheri, he was a fruit seller

Late on Friday when Mirror met with Jaiswal’s sister Kailashvati, she wanted to know what caused her brother’s death. “Just two days ago, he was singing and dancing as it was his daughter’s ninth birthday. He also has a 10-year-old son. This (Friday) morning, he left home saying he was going to buy flowers at Dadar. It’s a black Dussehra for us,” Kailashvati said.

Jyotibha Chavan, 29

Resident of Mumbra, he was a customs agent

Chavan’s wife was not told about her husband’s death until late Friday, when his friends and family members were waiting outside KEM Hospital to collect his body. Chavan’s family home is in Satara and he lived with his family in a Mumbra chawl. A couple of weeks ago, his wife delivered a boy, and the couple also have a three-year-old daughter, whose birthday was celebrated two days ago. Chavan’s brother-in-law Nitin Pawar said, “He was very hardworking and extremely humble. I don’t have the heart to even look my sister in the eye.”

Teresa Fernandez, 39

Resident of Dadar, she worked at a pvt firm

Usually, Ferdandez preferred to walk to her workplace, or take a taxi. On Friday, her inconsolable husband Richard kept muttering, “Why Teresa why, why did you board the train?” He’ll never find out. “The life of common people in Mumbai is ridiculously difficult. There’s no guarantee that a person who leaves for work in the morning will return home safely,” he said.

Richard was particularly angry at politicians, who he said “merely visit hospitals after calamities”. “What was my wife’s fault? She died because of somebody’s negligence,” he said.

Mushtaq Riyan, 45

Resident of Mumbra, worked for a pvt firm

Mushtaq Riyan worked in Parel for the last five years, and his was a field job. His colleague in the marketing department, Harish Sharma, said, “I called him up when he did not reach office. After messages regarding stampede started circulating, I called up his relative, who later informed us he had died.”

Mushtaq’s wife Ruby Khatun, sister Bilkis Sheikh, and son Adir also rushed to hospital. “He was the sole earning member of his family,” Mushtaq’s brother Mohammad Waseem said.

Mukesh Mishra, 22

Resident of Sion, he worked for a pvt firm

Mishra had arrived in Mumbai only six months ago, and was staying with his relatives in Sion. His cousin Ashish Tiwari said he had found work at a garment factory, and the family realised something was wrong when they received a call from his office saying he had not reported to work. “This is a particularly hard time for all of us, especially Mukesh’s parents. His father is a small-time farmer in UP, and was banking on his son finding employment in Mumbai,” Tiwari said.

Meena Walhekar, 35

Resident of Ulhasnagar, she was a govt employee

Walhekar worked as fund administrator at the state Labour Welfare Board’s Elphinstone Road office. The only earning member of her family comprising her parents and two younger brothers, Walhekar changed two trains and travelled two hours every day to reach her office. “This stampede has not only killed Meena, but also her entire family. These netas are talking about bullet trains, but will they own up responsibility for Meena’s death?” her uncle Anand Acharya demanded to know.

Shraddha Varpe, 25

Resident of Kalyan, she was a govt employee

Shraddha Varpe worked in the same office as Meena Walhekar, and both women had gotten off the train together, along with Varpe’s father Kishore, who was their senior colleague at the state Labour Welfare Board. In fact, Kishore spoke to Shraddha minutes before she died.

Shraddha had joined the Labour Welfare Board only a year ago, her brother Rupesh said. “My father called her up as it was raining heavily. Later, when he witnessed the stampede, he repeatedly dialled her phone but she didn’t answer. Fearing the worst, he rushed to KEM where the injured were taken, and fainted on spotting her body,” Rupesh said.

Mayuresh Haldankar, 20

Resident of Worli, he worked in pvt firm

Haldankar worked in a firm at Mazgaon, and was on an assignment when he was caught in the stampede on Friday. “He was the sole earning member of his family and shouldered the responsibility of his parents and a younger sister. He was funding his sister’s education,” Haldankar’s friend Anil said.

Priyanka Pasalkar, 22

Resident of Kurla, was a software engineer

Pasalkar worked for a private firm in Worli, and as part of her daily commute, would take a cab to office from Parel station. Such was her academic brilliance that she was known as ‘scholar’ in her neighbourhood. “She had a degree in information technology and software engineering from MH Saboo Siddik College of Engineering. She was a college topper in 2016 and had got a job through campus placement,” her neighbour Ashish Shejale said.

Her colleague Santosh Tikekar, who was at the KEM Hospital, said Pasalkar died on the way to hospital. “A medical student told us she had checked her pulse at the station and she was alive,” Tikekar said. Pasalkar’s father Balu works as a telephone operator in BMC, and it was her aim to give her family all the comforts. “Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing,” she had posted on social media recently.

Masood Sheikh, 35 and his friend

Masood, a resident of Govandi, and Shakeel, from Mumbra, were cousins who worked at the same garment factory on Elphinstone Road. Masood took the Elphinstone-Parel FOB every day for the last 20 years, and on Friday, he died after falling off the bridge steps. “He was gasping for breath when brought to hospital,” his father-in-law Jaan Mohammad said.

Masood leaves behind his wife and four children, while Shakeel is survived by his wife. “Shakeel had joined his cousin some years ago and was very happy that there was someone to look after him at work. We still can’t believe both of them are dead,” a relative said.

Lata Mishra, Alka Dhupkar, Linah Baliga and Rahi Gaikwad contributed to the report.

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