Mankhurd cylinder blast: Injured kids are clueless about parent's death

Updated: Dec 16, 2016, 12:17 IST | Aparna Shukla and Silky Sharma |

Six children who are recuperating in Sion hospital and friends of the Wankhede family are angry at this cruel twist of fate as the family was to shift to another house next month

The Maharashtra Nagar locality after the cylinder blast
The Maharashtra Nagar locality after the cylinder blast

A cylinder blast in Mankhurd claimed three lives yesterday. Six children who are recuperating in Sion hospital and friends of the Wankhede family are angry at this cruel twist of fate as the family was to shift to another house next month.

Last morning's LPG cylinder blast in Gadhves' tenement, which also led to a wall collapse, shook up two other families as well — Wankhedes and Pawars. While Sanjay, Rekha and Kasturba Wankhede died, 10 others (Vishakha and Pratik Wankhede, Swati, Rudra and Kadambari Pawar, and Umesh, Shobha, Omkar, Soham and Swastik Gadhve), including seven children, were injured.

Bad luck and timing
Rekha Wankhede's best friend Vaishali Rajguru said Rekha had been saving up for a house for years and the family had been all set to shift next month. "I had met her the night before the blast happened. She was very happy and excited about the new house because they had been staying on rent. The timing couldn't be worse," a teary-eyed Rajguru said.

Rekha Wankhede's neighbour Jayshree Patil (in orange) with other residents. Pics/Sneha Kharabe
Rekha Wankhede's neighbour Jayshree Patil (in orange) with other residents. Pics/Sneha Kharabe

A social worker and breadwinner of the family, Rekha used to work from 7.30 am to 10 pm, taking tuition classes and anganwadi classes, as well as worked as a teacher at Rocky High School. "She would get up by 5 am and finish her household chores before the tuition children would start coming in. Had the incident happened even an hour later, it would have killed more than 20 children," said Rajguru.

One of Rekha's students, Piyush Rajguru (11), said, "She was a very good teacher, she would never beat us or get angry. She would hold our hands and make us write instead of pointing out mistakes.""She had taken a loan from the bank and several friends to buy that house. Her husband worked on a contract basis and had negligible income, but it never deterred her from giving her 200 per cent to her family," said Rajguru.

The family was liked in the entire locality. Neighbour Jayshree Patil said, "They were simple people. They wouldn't indulge in any kind of local fights and would always reach out to people to help. Rekha, especially, would teach extra hours and help kids selflessly."

Future tense
The children who lost everyone in the family are the lone ones now. "I have been to several picnics and trips with the family. Such great memories with them, and now this. The kids… I don't know what's going to happen to them without a family," said Rajguru, breaking down. Chembur resident Yogesh Gangarde, a friend of Sanjay, said, "It is such an awful tragedy… for hours I couldn't bring myself to tell the children about their parents' death."

"They are traumatised. Right now, my main concern is to get them justice; I hope that they get enough compensation from the government," he added. Vishakha and Pratik Wankhede, admitted in ward 8 of Sion hospital, are clueless about their parents' death. While eight-year-old Kadambari, who was sleeping with her younger brother and mother at the time of the accident, thinks it was an earthquake. She has not seen her mother Swati, who is admitted Sion Hospital.

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