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Mumbai dahi handi: 2 dead, 365 injured during Janmashtami celebrations

Now that the rambunctious celebrations are over, it is time to count the deaths and injuries that come unfailingly after Dahi Handi revelries every year. Two govindas were killed in road accidents yesterday, one each in Thane and Mumbai. The final count of those injured was 365, of whom 307 were discharged from various civic-run hospitals across the city while others were said to be recuperating. One govinda succumbed after his motorcycle skidded, leaving him with severe head and chest injuries. Arrangements were made for 40 extra beds at Sion and KEM hospitals, while Mumbai Central’s Nair Hospital got 20 additional beds. 


Red alert: A member of the Waghin Pratishthan govinda pathak is carried away after she injured herself while breaking a handi on Tulsi Pipe Road. Pic/Suresh KK

Pyramids come crashing
Vinod Raj (22), resident of Worli, was admitted at Nair Hospital, is a member of Sairam Mandal, Wadibunder, Worli. The troupe was on the move to participate in the handi-bashing contests across the city. Raj was at the second-tier of the human pyramid when he slipped and fractured a hand. “It is very painful and I hope my parents do not blow their top with the whole thing, as I want to continue participating next year. I will have to walk around with a broken hand and I will come to Nair hospital for checkup.

Vinod Raj

After all, the BMC has promised free medical help.” Thirteen-year-old Manish Pawar from Vikhroli was admitted to Rajawadi in Ghatkopar with head injuries that knocked him out of his senses. Manish was at the third layer of a five-tier pyramid. His father Chandramani Pawar said, “I was at work when I got a call from my wife, informing me that Manish had suffered some injuries. This is very unfortunate as he was excited about this festival. I didn’t expect that he’d land in hospital. My wife and neighbour took him to Rajawadi. Doctors said there was nothing to worry, so we are hopeful that we’d be able to take him home soon.”

Beginners’ bad luck
In Andheri (East), 70 first-timers -- part of Saipratishtha govinda mandal -- were on their way to break their sixth handi, when a biker tried overtaking their tempo at a turn. The driver lost control and rammed the vehicle into a divider on the highway, injuring nine govindas. The tempo was overloaded, members admitted. Of the nine injured, seven were taken to Irla’s Cooper Hospital. The remaining two, Aniket Ghulekar (15) and Akshay Rajput(18), were treated at a private hospital in Andheri, and later shifted to KEM for treatment as they had sustained grave injuries. Member Nikesh Pednekar, “This was the first time we were out on a professional tour as govindas. We are disheartened with the incident, and somewhere it has let our morale down. We are a group of 70 and none of us could go on because of this, since the doctors told us to rest. But we hope to recover soon.”

Handi rope injures 3
The last thing that 14-year-old Worli resident Nitesh Dhandhar expected when he left home to celebrate dahi handi yesterday was that he would end up hospital with leg injuries. Speaking to MiD DAY, Bharat Desai, organiser of Sapta Bandu Kriya Mandal in Mahim, said, “We were on our way to the mandal when Nitesh and two more men who were sitting on top of the truck’s front fell on the divider. The unfortunate incident took place because they did not notice a handi rope hanging in their path, which caused them to lose their balance and fall on the road’s divider.” While Nitesh was lucky enough to escape with a leg injury, the other two -- Sunil Bansoli (28) and Sandesh Rane (21) -- sustained head injuries after the fall, and were taken to Fortis Raheja Hospital in Mahim. A few hours later, they were shifted to civic-run KEM hospital where they are now undergoing treatment for severe head injuries in the casualty department. “Nitesh underwent surgery in Sion hospital last evening and willbe kept under observation for a while,” added Desai.

The fatal one
Nineteen-year-old Sanket Mohite, a youngster with Balgopal mitra mandal in Wadala, succumbed to severe head injuries after he fell off the bike which was ferrying him and his friends to the dahi handi revelries at Bandra. Mohite was a first-year commerce student at Ambedkar College in Wadala. “In the afternoon, three youngsters including Mohite took off for Bandra on a motorbike to participate in the celebrations. At Bandra Kurla Complex, they were speeding and their bike tripped, leaving Mohite with injuries on his head. His other two friends have survived with minor injuries, but Mohite lost his life,” said Hemant Doke, Mohite’s friend. Mohite was rushed to the BMC-run Sion hospital and breathed his last there. His body will be sent for postmortem today. His 40-year-old mother Sadhana and elder brother Sagar (22) survive him. A professor of forensic department at Sion hospital said, “The accident victim sustained head injuries with blunt trauma to the chest and was declared dead on arrival.”

30-ft fall
Another victim’s future now looks bleak. Sanjay Sapkal (30) is battling for his life with multiple injuries, after falling from a height of 30 feet. The incident took place around 7.30 am in Mankhurd, when Sapkal climbed up a scaffolding in the mandal to tie the other end of the dahi handi to the bamboo stick. “He lost his balance and fell, after which we rushed him to Shatabdi Hospital from where he was shifted to Sion hospital,” said Rajesh Jadav, a friend who rushed him to the hospital. “He finally got admitted to KEM hospital where doctors informed us he has a head injury; his thigh bones are severely fractured,” he added. Sapkal is a construction worker in Mankhurd and has a 3-year-old daughter. His family was informed about the mishap an hour after he was admitted to the hospital.

Fall can’t keep these girls down
Jogeshwari’s Ranjunzaar govinda mandal -- known for including girls as small as seven years to women as old as 55 -- has been active across the city for the last seven years, and their zing is somewhat of an inspiration, locals say. Yesterday, when over 50 women of the troupe arrived to break a handi at a popular contest arranged by a Thane politico, 16 got injured after their seven-level pyramid fell apart. But they were back on their feet by early afternoon, and out to seize the handi. Among the 16 who came tumbling down twice on the trot in the first half of the day, some suffered minor injuries while others were knocked out cold. After the fall, troupe members took their injured peers to the hospital. Smita Telli, 20, one of the injured who was put on saline water, said, “It wasn’t a big fall.

But to be safe, the troupe thought it better to admit us to hospital as we started feeling very weak.” She added, “I was at the third level. We are used to such falls during practices but everyone panicked a bit this time, since the entire seven-layer pyramid came crashing falling.” Bhayashree More (18), who suffered abrasions, said their enthusiasm was intact, sturdy enough for a second go. “We have not lost hope. After the treatment, we will go back out to break the handis. It’s a joy to participate in the yearly celebrations. We have rehearsed for over two months and are determined to break the matkis across the city.” By 4.30 pm, most of the women had geared up and boarded the bus to tour the city and break some matkis.  

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