Thane: Eyewitness recounts horror of 72-year-old collapsing to death in ATM line

Updated: Nov 14, 2016, 10:10 IST | Rupsa Chakraborty |

Vishwanath Vartak, a resident of Thane, was queuing up for the new currency outside an SBI branch in Hari Om Nagar, Thane, when he collapsed and succumbed to a heart attack

Vartak collapsed outside the SBI branch in Thane while waiting to exchange currency. Pic/Sameer Markande
Vartak collapsed outside the SBI branch in Thane while waiting to exchange currency. Pic/Sameer Markande

After two days of unexpected hardships brought on by the Wednesday announcement of currency devaluation, Friday was supposed to bring respite to a suffering populace. But it wasn’t how it panned out for 72-year-old Vishwanath Vartak, a resident of Thane, who while queuing up for the new currency outside an SBI branch, collapsed and succumbed to a heart attack. His family says it was on a whim that he decided to go get the currency changed; there was no need for it.

Read Story: Senior citizen dies after standing for hours in ATM queue

Nitin Bhoir was one of the people in the queue who attempted to help Vartak
Nitin Bhoir was one of the people in the queue who attempted to help Vartak

In what is the first recorded death during the country’s ongoing demonetisation drive, Vartak, a retired PWD officer, was in a queue outside an SBI branch in Hari Om Nagar at 11.30 in the morning when ten minutes into his wait, he suddenly collapsed.

Eyewitness account
According to Nitin Bhoir, a 37-year-old businessman, “It had been five-ten minutes that he had stood in line. Suddenly he fell unconscious. People first thought he was having seizures and kept onions near his nose to revive him. In the meantime, I sent a friend to call a doctor from a nearby clinic to check him, but he was declared dead on the spot. Later, we called his sons who took his body in their car. We tried our best to help him.”

Incidentally, Vartak did not have a history of cardiac issues. In fact, he often went on long morning walks.

“When I reached the spot, I checked his pulse, blood pressure and heart beat, but he had expired on the spot. We didn’t have any option,” Dr Deepak Sharma, the doctor who came to his aid.

Is the bank responsible?
It appears that even before the incident, there had been an altercation when a few senior citizens said that they should be allowed to go first, as they couldn’t stand in long queues, following which, special arrangements were made for them to go in first along with seating arrangements.

Also Read: Demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000: 10 things you must know 

“I had gone inside and spoken to the manager to allow senior citizens in first. However, Vishwanath came much after that,” said Bhoir. When mid-day contacted bank manager Swarupa Shembekar, she refused to comment. “We are not allowed to speak anything on it yet, but we called the doctor immediately and later informed the family members,” she said.

Meanwhile, the police has already inspected the CCTV camera and confirmed that Vartak was in the queue for 10 minutes only and not longer.

Family speaks up
Talking to mid-day, his daughter-in-law Chitra Vatkar, said, “He was sitting at home when suddenly, he decided to go exchange the money. There was no need, but he just decided to go. Since the bank doesn’t get a long queue, we allowed him to go. He didn’t even have any history of a heart condition. We are really very shocked about his sudden death.”

At 4.30 pm, Vartak’s body was taken to Rajawadi hospital for post-mortem.

4
Number of Rs 1,000 notes that Vartak hoped to exchange

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