The father of a 17-year-old junior college student did not expect that he would never be able to see his son again after being admitted to hospital for a liver ailment.
Anandkumar Sharma returned home from a hospital in Vidyavihar where he was under treatment for a liver disease only to receive news that his son Sumit had died of drowning. A Std XI student of Bharat College in Badlapur, Sumit went for a swim with his friends at a barrage dam near his college on March 9, but his friends coughed up the bitter truth of his death only a day after the incident while being questioned by cops.
On the evening of March 9, Sharma was to be discharged from hospital. Since Sumit’s exams were approaching, his mother asked him to attend lectures instead of accompanying her and his elder sister to the hospital to bring his father home. Sumit usually left for college around noon, and after the lectures got over at 6 pm he would go to attend coaching classes in Ambernath. He’d get back home by 9 in the night. But on the day Sharma was to return home, he did not. After a harrowing night of being unable to locate him, the family had to approach the police the next day.
Sumit’s elder sister Chandani (19) said, “When he didn’t return home even after 11 pm, we began calling up his friends who are always with him. But their phones seemed to be switched off. We called all our relatives to check if he had gone to meet any of them but he hadn’t. The morning after, a cousin of ours finally went to the police.” The cousin Chitrasen (24) said, “When the police questioned his two close friends the day after the incident, they said they had met Sumit but later split ways to go shopping in Ulhasnagar, while Sumit headed out with someone else. But on being pressed, they revealed that he had drowned in the dam water.”
The Sharma family learnt from Sumit’s friends that he had skipped college and classes the day before to go for a swim. He had gone to the dam at noon with them, where he drowned around 12.30 pm. “Sumit’s bag, college identity card and clothes were recovered from different spots. His body was found a kilometre away from the barrage,” Chitrasen said. “The dam has a security guard but he doesn’t stop anyone from going into the water, not even children. Many drowning accidents have taken place at the dam,” said Chandani.
The doctor who conducted Sumit’s post-mortem at Central Hospital in Ulhasnagar said the autopsy report did not show enough water as should have been in the body of a person who has died due to drowning. “We have sent his report to the Kalina Forensic Science Laboratory to get a clear picture of what happened and establish the cause of his death,” an official said. Until then, the Badlapur police have registered an accidental death report.