When 13-year old Vikas Valmiki and his best friend Hrithik Trishul (12) stepped out to play Holi a year ago, little did they know that it was the last time they would enjoy the festival. Over 200 people from the city were left with scarring memories of Holi, after colours used in chemical dye factories in Dharavi found their way into Holi colours.
Over 190 people landed in Sion hospital and another 12 were admitted to Rajawadi hospital, following symptoms of giddiness, burning sensation on skin and vomiting, after playing with the tainted colours.
Valmiki succumbed to injuries caused by colour poisoning while his friend Trishul was left battling for his life for over 48 hours. MiD DAY revisited these families, who have sworn that they would never participate in the festival of Holi again.
Residents of Kurla railway colony especially the relatives of victims are still coming to terms with the episode. Most of these families have decided to head to their native place in a bid to keep their children away from Holi celebrations in the city. When our reporter spoke to a few kids in the locality one of them said, “We have decided not to play Holi this year. Our families are afraid that we may fall ill after playing with colours and water. We will stay at home and watch television or play cricket near our buildings.”
Valmiki was admitted to Rajawadi hospital after he complained of dizziness and vomiting on that fateful day. Doctors claimed that a particular compound, which is present in adulterated colours, when mixed with water caused a reaction leading to a sharp fall in hemoglobin levels, causing Valmiki to lose consciousness.
A tearful Lata, Valmiki’s mother, said, “We lost our son last year and just pray that no one suffers the same plight again.”
She also urged fellow residents to keep the celebrations mellow owing to her loss and the widespread drought in the state.
Hrithik Trishul is scared to even venture out on Holi, let alone celebrate the festival with his friends. Trishul was not told about his friend’s (Valmiki) death for almost six months. “After losing my best friend and almost losing my own life I have learnt a very valuable lesson. I am scared of playing with colours and will remain indoors this year,” Trishul said.
Trishul’s father Sanjay Trishul, said, “We do not want to risk his life once again. We are planning to send him to our native place at least a couple of days before Holi.”