A 20-year-old man, Salim alias Lacchaya Shaikh, the only means of support for his disabled parents, drowned late on Wednesday night at the Seven Bungalows immersion spot, during the visarjan of his friend's Ganpati.
The tides and the undercurrent pulled him into the sea, say eyewitnesses. Onlookers saved two other friends of Lacchaya who had accompanied him for the immersion. His body was found at 3.30 pm yesterday, officials said.
Hitendra Pachkale, Lacchaya's friend, said, "We were about to reach the Seven Bungalows beach for immersing our friend's Ganpati, when my phone rang.
Salim alias Lacchaya Shaikh carries a boy dressed as Krishna
on his shoulders during Janmashtami last month. Shaikh was
at Versova beach when the undercurrent pulled him into the sea
One of my friends told me that Lacchaya had drowned in the sea and two other friends just escaped death narrowly."
An eyewitness who was present at the spot alleged that even though some police officials were present at the time of the incident, they said it was the job of lifeguards to save people.
"What is the use of deploying so many police officials when they cannot save a drowning person? Even lifeguards present at the spot did not seem keen to save him, as only one person among them had a safety jacket."
A friend recalls Lacchaya, belonging to the Muslim community, as a loving and genial person. He'd take a lead in celebrating festivals like Dahi Handi, Ganpati and Navratri.
"Last morning, he was eagerly waiting fort the visarjan. He enjoyed dancing a lot. It is really difficult to come to grips with the fact that he is no more."
Lachhya was staying in Mumbai at Seven Bungalows in Andheri (West) with his uncle's family. He was in Mumbai to earn a living and support his physically disabled parents.
His cousin, Younis Shaikh, said yesterday, "His sudden death has come as a blow to our family. His parents are expected to arrive in Mumbai from Karnataka today evening. They don't know he is no more. We told them he has met with an accident."
No visarjan at Versova?
If you plan to bid adieu to your Ganpati at Versova village, do keep an alternative spot in mind. Villagers in Versova have decided not to allow immersion of over 8-foot idols. They claim the Plaster of Paris statues have an adverse effect on fishing activity in the area.
The Other Side
Assistant Municipal Commissioner Ramesh Pawar of Andheri K-West ward said, "There are five BMC lifeguards with a speedboat, and NGO lifeguards to save people from drowning. They have to patrol along the beach so they must have been present at some other point when the incident occurred."
According to the police official present at the beach who requested anonymity, "The body of Salim Shaikh (20) was found on the coast of Seven Bungalows' Sagar Kutir beach at 3.30 pm on Thursday, and it appears that the reason of death is drowning." He added, "We sent two lifeguards to save the three from drowning, but we could only save two."