Bhayandar man's family yet to be told of his death

Updated: May 16, 2020, 07:11 IST | Diwakar Sharma | Mumbai

As officials insist his name was not in the passenger list of train leaving from Vasai to Rajasthan, brothers demand thorough probe

Harish Chander Shankarlal
Harish Chander Shankarlal

The brothers of 45-year-old carpenter, Harish Chander Shankarlal, who died outside Vasai Road station on Thursday after walking 30 km in the sun from Bhayandar to board a train to Rajasthan, say his wife Pavita, sons Akhil and Lakshya and mother Chameli Devi have not been told of his death. They are demanding a probe into his death after authorities claim Shankarlal's name was not on the passenger list.

Shankarlal's relative Sawarmal Jangir said his name was on the list of passengers who boarded the train to Sikar from Vasai Road. But the tehsildar as well as Palghar police told mid-day that it wasn't. The authorities claim his name was not there as the train was only for those living in Vasai taluka, not Bhayandar.

"The Thursday evening train for Rajasthan was meant for migrants living only in Vasai Taluka and we did provide transport facility to bring them to Vasai Road station. I don't know why and how Shankarlal came to Vasai Road from Bhayandar," said tehsildar Kiran Survase. A senior officer from Vasai division of Palghar police requesting anonymity said, "I have checked the list of passengers and his name was not on it." His younger brother Jaiprakash told mid-day, "Had the government provided transport to my brother, he would have been alive. I was told that he walked for hours in the heat just so that he could board the train. On Wednesday, he had told us that his medical report permitted him to board the train to Rajasthan on Thursday. We were expecting to reunite with him on Friday, but then this happened…"

'Smell something fishy'

Jaiprakash, a retired sailor from Indian Navy, said, "My brother remained inside his rented house in Bhayandar throughout the lockdown and had been following every instruction of the government during that time. If his name was not there, why would he walk 30 km to reach Vasai Road station? I don't want to say anything to the tehsildar and Palghar police but I do smell something fishy and it should be thoroughly investigated."

Shankarlal had been staying in Bhayandar's Sai Baba Nagar since 1993 and did carpentry work locally or in Mumbai. He would often visit his hometown in Lotia village of Rajasthan. He shared his Bhayander room with his distant relative Sawarmal.

Another brother Vinod Jangir said, "He last visited us during Diwali and returned to Mumbai. He was scheduled to come but was stuck because of the lockdown. We had done his registration on the state government portal e-mitra on April 27 midnight just to ensure he could travel to Rajasthan. The state government gave us an NOC for him and we had sent the screen shot to him Shankarlal on his WhatsApp."

'He had no illness'

"He never had any illness and was not on any medication. He might have died of heat stroke or heart failure after walk fast in the scorching heat. Now, the government is trying to hush-up the matter," said Vinod, who was in constant touch with his brother during the lockdown and would often ask if he needed money or other essentials.

Harish Chander Shankarlal; sons Akhil and Lakshya. PICS/Hanif PatelHarish Chander Shankarlal; sons Akhil and Lakshya. Pic/Hanif Patel

"He never complained of anything during the lockdown. He would often tell us that he had remained inside his house and was waiting for the government to transport him to Rajasthan. He had told me on Wednesday that he will reach Lotia village on Friday," Vinod said.

He added, "We were shocked We have not informed his wife or our mother yet. We don't know if his body will be brought here or not. We four brothers are emotionally shattered. We cannot even travel to Mumbai during this lockdown. We all are restless since Thursday."

Police Speak

"We have registered an Accidental Death Report (ADR) at Manikpur police station and further investigations are underway. His body has been kept in a mortuary in Virar and we are waiting for his COVID-19 test report. Based on the report, we will decide our further course of action," said Vijaykant Sagar, additional SP of Vasai division of Palghar police.

A senior officer from the DGP's office told mid-day that it was the 'full responsibility of the Collector and his office' in the rural area to prepare a list of passengers boarding migrant special trains.

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