Navi Mumbai: Caught smoking, teens decide to kill themselves

Birthday celebration goes awry for friends, who jumped into Vashi creek, fearing arrest. Only one survived

In a case that reveals how vulnerable teenagers are in the face of fear, a 16-year-old, who was rescued by a fisherman, after he and his friend jumped off the Vashi bridge, revealed that the duo had decided to take the drastic step because they had been caught smoking cigarettes. Incidentally, this wasn't the first time the boys had been pulled up for smoking cigarettes.

Ruthik Patekar's mother protests at the police station. Pic/Datta Kumbar
Ruthik Patekar's mother protests at the police station. Pic/Datta Kumbar

The boy, who has been identified as Nikhil Gaddam, had earlier told the police that he had attempted suicide because his family had refused to give him money to celebrate his birthday. He, however, gave a different story to the police on Saturday.

Ruthik Ganesh Patekar (17), who had also jumped along with him, died in the incident. His body was later found near the banks of Vashi creek. In his statement, Gaddam told the police that as his birthday fell on April 8, he and Patekar — both of whom had recently appeared for the Std X exams — decided to celebrate the birthday a day earlier, on Thursday.

"The boys, along with two girls, had pani-puri near the Bombay Port Trust Colony, after which Gaddam bought some cigarettes. The friends were spotted smoking when residents of BPT Colony (who saw them smoking), assaulted and reprimanded the teenagers for indulging in the vice," said Parshuram Karykarte, senior inspector, Wadala police station.

Nikhil Gaddam (16), who survived the attempt to suicide
Nikhil Gaddam (16), who survived the attempt to suicide

According to the police, the residents then confiscated their mobile phones and decided to take the youngsters to Wadala police station when the boys managed to escape. After evading the residents, Gaddam and Patekar boarded a local train from Wadala and got down at the Vashi railway station. They then walked down to the Vashi bridge and jumped into the creek.

Gaddam landed on a swamp ground and was rescued by a fisherman, but Ruthik drowned. Rajaram Joshi (37), the local fisherman who rescued Gaddam, said that the fire brigade had informed him about the accident. "I saw that the boy (Gaddam) was stuck inside a swampy land. Going inside was impossible, so I took a wooden board and went into the creek. I then asked him to sit on it and brought him out," said Joshi.

CCTV camera footage procured from the Wadala and Vashi Railway Protection Force, shows the boys walking in the stations, and this corroborates Gaddam's claims, the police said. Speaking to mid-day Vikas, Gaddam6s elder brother, said a teacher had previously caught his brother and Patekar smoking during a school picnic.
"The teacher informed us and we even warned them," he said.

Meanwhile, Patekar's mother and relatives, along with a crowd of more than 100 people, protested outside the police station on Saturday evening, demanding that a case be registered against those guilty for her son's death.

The family claimed that the police were deliberately delaying the investigation. "We have registered a case against five persons. These include the four youths, who assaulted the teenagers, as well as Gaddam. The case is currently being investigated."

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