National Games tragedy: Entire village mourns death of netball player

As the body of Mayuresh Pawar was brought to Mayani village yesterday, the entire community came together to pay rich tributes to him and console the family

“Mala kheltana paha TV var tumhi (watch me play live on television)” were Mayuresh Pawar’s last words to his father, Bhagwan (46), before he played the first match between Maharashtra and Chandigarh on Monday in Kerala.

Also read: Death at National Games - Last words of netball player haunts coach

Thousands of people in Mayani village gathered to pay their last respects to Mayuresh Pawar yesterday
Thousands of people in Mayani village gathered to pay their last respects to Mayuresh Pawar yesterday

Instead, his father, who was on his way to Mumbai for work, had to contend with the news of Mayuresh’s death on TV in the afternoon. The tragedy was kept from his mother Mangal (40), younger brother Akash (17) and grandmother Subhadra (77) until 4 pm yesterday.

Speaking to mid-day from Mayani, a village 90 km from Satara, the boy’s uncle, Rajaram Mane, said, “His father is completely shaken after seeing his son’s demise.

Though he wanted to return to his family soon after, we requested him to stay back in Satara as we were scared that the grandmother and mother would go into shock, and concealed the news from them. We requested the villagers not to say anything about Mayuresh.”

As the boy’s body was brought home last evening, thousands came to pay their respects at the Pawars’, where Mayuresh’s body was kept for two hours. It was later taken around in a chariot, for everyone to get a glimpse. The body was finally cremated late last night.

Three players from the village were representing Maharashtra in netball at the National Games: Mayuresh Pawar, Ganesh Chaudhury and Pooja Mane. Both Pooja and Ganesh have returned home, in shock. Mayuresh’s uncle said he had won national tournaments and had over 50 medals.

Cut short by destiny
Mayuresh studied in an engineering college in Pune, and shared a room with another from his village, Sushant Renuse (22), a final-year student in the same college. According to the police, Mayuresh drowned after he lost his balance due to a rough wave.

“Mayuresh was a good swimmer. He learnt swimming in the village well when he was seven years old. The wave was strong and it hit him from behind, causing him to lose his balance. As he fell down, he swallowed mud which entered his nostrils and mouth.”

Renuse said Mayuresh was excited about the National Games and had even been to Gondhiya for practice. “Since we were roommates and from the same village, I helped him in his studies. He appeared for four papers and missed the paper on January 31, as he had to be at Thiruvananthapuram on that day,” said Renuse.

He further said the 19-year-old’s father was going to apply for an education loan. “Mayuresh was good at academics but sports was his passion. He wanted to represent India at the Olympics and, hence, was keen to participate in the National Games, as selectors would have picked the best players for the Indian Olympic team,” said Renuse, adding, “But destiny had something else in store for him.”

Mayuresh’s flight to Kerala was his first time travelling by air, courtesy his uncle. His teammates had left by train, but Mayuresh had stayed back for his exam. Sushant remembers his friend’s excitement on reaching faster than his team, and on getting two pairs of blazers, a sport outfit and shoes.

On that fateful morning, he phoned all his friends and asked them to watch him play live on television. Both his uncle and Sushant confirmed Mayuresh had no medical issues and was fit.

Cop speak
H Venkatesh, Commissioner of Police, Thiruvananthapuram, said, “We have recorded the statements of eyewitnesses, and prima facie it seems to be an accidental death. Mayuresh and his group ventured into the sea a little after 12 noon, and he had gone almost 10 to 15 metres away from the shore.

While they were busy taking photographs, a large wave hit Mayuresh and he fell on his face, injuring his nose and swallowing mud and water.” Venkatesh added, “The autopsy surgeons at Thiruvananthapuram Medical College have ruled out any foul play. We have registered the death as accidental under Section 174 of Criminal Procedure Code.”

“As a precautionary measure, we have instructed the local tourism police and municipality to ask people to refrain from venturing into the sea, as we have found that many tourists who are unaware of the rough waves at Shankumugham Beach have drowned in the past.”

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