Teen dies on tracks, but cops hand over 45-yr-old's body to family
Already struggling to come to terms with the sudden death of 17-year-old Arbaz Shaikh in Gujarat, his family has been unable to even grieve properly, thanks to a goof up by the local police, who had already disposed of the teenager’s body after it was switched with another corpse.
Arbaz Shaikh (17) did not fall off the train by accident but was murdered by his companions, allege his grandmother Shakira, sister Farnaz and mother Sadaf. They are now fighting a legal battle against the police departments and hospital authorities to find out who was responsible for the teen’s body being switched. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
As it is, Trombay resident Arbaz seemes to have died under mysterious circumstances, with his body found on railway tracks near Valsad station in Gujarat. The Shaikhs were informed of the death on July 22, but even before they could reach and ask the Valsad railway police to investigate the death, the teen’s body got switched with another and was picked up by a different police branch - the Vapi Town police.
What’s worse, when they went to claim Arbaz’s body, they were handed the corpse of a 45-year-old instead. Looking for justice and some answers, the distressed family has now filed a lawsuit against both police departments, as well as the mortuary where the corpses got swapped.
Arbaz lived in Cheetah Camp with his sister and grandmother. His sister Farnaz recalled, “On July 20, I woke him up early in the morning as he had told me that he was going out somewhere. When he didn’t return that day, I went to enquire at his friend’s house and was told that he had gone to Ajmer with some other people and would return in four days.”
Just two days later, however, cops from Valsad railway police station arrived at their residence and informed them that Shaikh had been found dead on the train tracks. The family then identified Arbaz from photographs of the body, and began preparations to go and claim his body at Kasturba Hospital, Valsad.
To their dismay, after they completed the formalities they realised they had been handed the body of a 45-year-old man, instead of the 17-year-old Arbaz. His mother Sadaf, who had flown down from Qatar, where she works, told mid-day, “The hospital authorities told us that Arbaz’s body had been mistakenly swapped with another. They told us that the police would have taken his body for the last rites straightaway.”
Who’s to blame?
This was indeed exactly what had happened, as the Shaikhs learnt later. With no closure in sight, the family does not even know whom to blame, with the hospital and cops passing the buck to each other.
When mid-day contacted Kasturba Hospital, where the bodies were stored, the CEO, Paritosh Joshi said, “We are a private trust and we have been offering help to the local police by letting them keep bodies in our mortuary. We are nowhere responsible in this matter, as the cops came and took the body.”
On the other hand, Vapi Town police station’s senior police inspector, Ankur Patel told this paper, “Our head constable had gone to the hospital and specifically asked the authorities there to hand over the right body. He even mentioned that there were two bodies and they should not get mixed up. Only after the mortuary confirmed we had the right body, we collected it and disposed it of .”
‘Son was murdered’
Arbaz’s mother, Sadaf believes that he didn’t fall off the train accidentally but was instead murdered by his companions. She says, “Arbaz didn’t want to go with the group, but the main culprit, Arif, forced him to go along. I think they pushed him from the train.
They never even informed us about the incident and did not bother to pull the chain and stop the train so they could take my son to the hospital. Instead they carried on with their trip to Ajmer and returned five days later.”