He held on to life for nine long years after the serial train blasts rocked Mumbai and severely injured him on July 11, 2006, but 36-year-old Parag Sawant finally breathed his last in the wee hours yesterday, just four days before the anniversary of the terror attack.
Parag Sawant’s mother Madhuri, wife Priti, daughter Prachiti and brother Pratik at his funeral. Pic/ Nimesh Dave
Devastated as his family and friends are, Parag wasn’t all they lost on that fateful day nine years ago, they lost their faith in the government and in its leaders, none of whom stepped up to help Parag in that desperate time. So much so that none of the family members have voted since then.
After nine years of battling for life, 2006-train blast victim Parag Sawant breathed his last early last morning. Pic/Satyajit Desai
On the day of the blasts, Parag then 27 years old was heading home in a Churchgate-Virar train when a bomb ripped the coach apart. Parag suffered extensive head injuries and brain trauma and was at first rushed to the Bhaktivedanta Hospital at Mira road.
“He was the last person to be dragged out of the train. We were informed about him through a few other people who had gone to the spot to help the injured. The next day, he was shifted to PD Hinduja Hospital (south Mumbai) where he remained for the next nine years,” said one of Parag’s close friends, Ajay Mishra.
Parag’s friends added that they had found little assistance from political leaders local or high-profile at the time, and they had had to manage everything on their own, along with his family. After Parag passed away early morning at 6.54 am yesterday, his family was too distraught to speak, but his friends told mid-day that Parag’s plight went largely ignored, except by leaders who sought political mileage out of it.
For two years, Parag lay in a deep coma, but in 2008, he emerged from the coma into a semi-conscious state, when he could understand basic communication and respond accordingly. For the masses, Parag became a symbol of the will to live. He began to receive high-profile visitors such as Union minister Sushma Swaraj and former deputy prime minister LK Advani.
“After the incident, no politician came to enquire about his well-being. But when people began to recognise Parag as a survivor and the media highlighted his case, politicians began to visit him for the limelight. After a while, his family stopped entertaining such political visits. They have not even voted since the blasts, because they have lost all faith in the system,” said Priyash Tandel, another friend of Parag’s.
Parag was amongst the victims who were most severely injured in the blasts, and was amongst the few who emerged from coma and survived this long. He is survived by his wife Priti and daughter Praniti. At the time of the blasts, he had been married just a year and a half, after he eloped with Priti. His wife was pregnant when the terrorists struck, and Praniti was born just seven months after the blasts, while Parag was comatose.
Although he emerged from the coma, he was bed-ridden and would never get to hold his daughter. His friends remember him as an enthusiastic and active youth, said Tandel, adding, “Parag was the livewire in our society. He took part in all games and activities that were organized, and after he was rushed to the hospital, the entire colony shared the grief of the family.”
After Parag emerged from the coma in 2008, there was slight improvement in his condition, which gave hope to his doctors and family. However, his condition suddenly took a turn for the worse last morning, leading to a cardiac arrest, and eventually, his death.
Dr B K Misra, consultant neurosurgeon, PD Hinduja Hospital said, “He underwent multiple operations for brain treatment and was on supportive care and physiotherapy for few years. At 5:30 am, on Tuesday, one of the staff nurses checked Parag and his condition was stable.
However within half an hour, his saturation levels dropped and he was put on oxygen in an effort to stabilise his breathing condition. But he suffered a sudden respiratory arrest.” Despite efforts to resuscitate, Parag could not be revived and was declared dead at 6:54 am. The cause of his death was stated as a cardio-respiratory arrest and immediate deterioration due to pulmonary embolism.
kirit somaiya, Mumbai North-East MP (BJP) I am sad to hear the news. In fact last week, I was discussing plans to visit Parag (Sawant) at the hospital on the ninth anniversary of the 11/7 blasts on Saturday. Parag and his family took the tragedy bravely.