Russia hostel fire: Grieving Bhosale family wants to sue university for negligence

Collecting the mortal remains of their 21-year-old daughter yesterday, the Bhosale family said the university is still mum on what caused the fire

Three days after two girls from Maharashtra died in a fire in a university hostel in Russia, the families received their mortal remains at Mumbai airport yesterday. However, closure is still out of the grasp of the Pune-based Bhosale family until they find out how the blaze started and why their 21-year-old daughter was not rescued. The Bhosales now intend to file a case of negligence against the Russian university, while the Navi Mumbai-based Kallur family intends to fly to Russia to learn about what really happened there.

Also Read: Fire at hostel in Russia: Families of Indian girls blame college for negligence

Pooja’s father, Siddappa Kallur (left), MP Kirit Somaiya and Karishma’s father Uday Bhosale received the girls’ mortal remains at Mumbai airport yesterday. Pic/Nimesh Dave
Pooja’s father, Siddappa Kallur (left), MP Kirit Somaiya and Karishma’s father Uday Bhosale received the girls’ mortal remains at Mumbai airport yesterday. Pic/Nimesh Dave

mid-day had reported that Karishma Bhosale was in her fourth year studying at Smolensk State Medical Academy and she shared a room in the hostel with another fourth-year student, Pooja Kallur from Navi Mumbai. The fire had broken out in the room next to theirs early on Sunday morning, and they were the only ones who did not make it out alive (‘Why didn’t they save our girls first?’, February 17).

Read Story: Russia hostel fire caused by short circuit from room heater

Karishma (left) and Pooja
Karishma (left) and Pooja

Last afternoon, their bodies arrived at Mumbai airport at 1.30 pm, and Karishma’s was transferred to Pune by 8 pm. The family is still hearing varying reports of what happened the night Karishma died, and they are fed up of the silence from the university. Karishma’s brother, Karan, said, “We are planning to file a case of negligence against the university officials, especially the vice-chancellor and dean Alok Aaron. Even now, we are not aware how the fire broke out. Some of her friends mentioned that the fire started after some girls lit a candle in their room, while others mentioned a short circuit.”

The Kallur family are also unhappy with the lack of information. “Pooja’s elder brother, Mayur, and her father will go to Russia in a few days to get proper details about the incident. They believe she could have been saved. We found that the hostel authorities had vacated all the other students. They claimed they were not aware about our girls in the adjoining room. This may be negligence from their side,” said Girish Kurne, a relative.

Friends speak up
Karishma and Pooja’s friends and fellow students shared similar views on Facebook. “Hon. Sushma Swaraj & Narendra Modi, I lost my friend Karishma Bhosale along with her friend Pooja Kallur in a tragic fire incident at Smolensk State Medical University in Russia. The family is in deep pain and the university and dorm authorities are showing sheer negligence in not giving them any information. The university authorities are not at all approachable, especially when the family is facing a difficult time. It’s a humble request to Sushma Swaraj to take relevant action and do a detailed investigation,” reads a post by Akshay Patil, who also asked his friends to tweet to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to request a probe.

Another student, Tabrez Khan, posted: “I express my deepest condolences to the family members of Pooja Kallur and Karishma Bhosale who lost their lives in tragic fire that broke out in the hostel of Smolensk State Medical University, Russia. It may be due to the negligence of the university hostel admin. On behalf of the Indian Students Association, we demand action and inquiry into this incident.”

— Inputs by Faisal Tandel

The night before the fire
Shiv, a friend of the girls’, told mid-day about the last meal they shared on Saturday night: “Pooja and Karishma cooked daal and rice that night. We were all having fun and singing romantic songs as the next day was Valentine’s Day. Karishma and Pooja had planned to study till 3 am and then enjoy the next day.”

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