Purse-snatching leads to chain of unhappy events

Jun 11, 2012, 07:02 IST | Anuradha Varanasi

Young girl who gave chase to thief loses leg after falling on tracks; father fractures knee trying to save her, brother hurts leg attempting to protect them both

For Bhavika Mehta and her family, a vacation to Punjab turned into an ordeal they will never forget. The 24-year-old had her purse pinched, and she had to get her left leg amputated after being injured while giving chase. Her father sustained a knee fracture and her brother hurt his leg. On top of this, they received absolutely no help from any government agency and had to pay Rs 1.40 lakh to a private ambulance to bring them back to Mumbai, a journey that lasted 4 days.

Triple tragedy: Bhavika Mehta’s left leg had to be amputated after she was injured while giving chase. 

On June 5, the Bhiwandi residents boarded the 9.25 pm Golden Temple Mail from Amristar railway station for Mumbai. At around 1.30 am, the train slowed down gradually, as it was nearing Ambala Junction. Bhavika, who was fast asleep in the middle berth of the 3-tier non-A/C coach, was suddenly awakened by someone tugging at her purse. In the same coach were her father, brother and other relatives who were also asleep. As the thief snatched her purse and ran, Bhavika got up and started shouting. She then sprinted towards the robber who had reached the door and was about to leap off the train. As Bhavika reached the door, her father, who also followed her after hearing the commotion, stated that he saw the robber holding her hand. A few seconds later, she had fallen on the tracks. Her left leg came under the train’s wheels, while the thief escaped.

Her father Kiran Mehta, sustained a knee fracture, and her brother too sustained injuries in the attempt to save her. Pics/Sameer Markande

Set in train
Bhavika’s father Kiran Mehta (52), who saw his daughter fall, also jumped out of the moving train and hurt his knee badly. Rahul Mehta (28), Bhavika’s brother, pulled the chain, and jumped off the train to save his sister and father, and also sustained injuries in the process. “The ambulance arrived an hour after this unfortunate incident took place. I couldn’t stand at all after injuring my knee and I crawled to be with my daughter whose left leg had got stuck under the wheels. No one came forward to help her,” said Kiran. They were then taken to the Civil Hospital in Ambala, but the hospital did not have the necessary facilities to treat them and they were directed to PGI Hospital, Chandigarh. Here, the Mehtas were told that there was a long wait list before the girl could get treated. After pleading with the hospital’s dean, Bhavika was admitted and she underwent a three-hour operation in the afternoon of June 5 wherein her left leg was amputated.

On their own
The same evening, the family left for Mumbai. They hired a private ambulance and after travelling for four days reached Raj Hospital, Mulund at 4.30 am on Saturday. Speaking to MiD DAY, Bhavika Mehta said, “I was told by my relatives that after I got treated in Chandigarh, there were no flights or train seats available for us to get back to Mumbai for further treatment. We didn’t receive any help from Indian Railways and had to hire a private ambulance to Mumbai.”

Bhavika’s parents were planning to get her married this year. Khyati Mehta (22), the victim’s sister, said, “She was supposed to apply for a B Ed course after her summer vacation. However she will be bedridden for another 6 months until arrangements are made for a prosthetic limb.” Dr Shyamlal Ramkrishnan Mukhi, orthopaedic surgeon at Raj Hospital, said, “Bhavika is recovering well and once she is out of shock, the re-fashioning of the stump will be performed. We will also make arrangements for a prosthetic limb a month later when the stitches start healing.” Bhavika’s father has filed an FIR against the unidentified man at Ambala police station, and investigations are going on.  

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