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Even in tragedy, this family will not give up on its dreams

Updated on: 28 February,2023 05:43 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Shirish Vaktania |

Brother and sister of 24-yr-old who died during police recruitment drive vow to fulfil his dreams

Even in tragedy, this family will not give up on its dreams

Aanchal, Aakash, and mother Chanda with deceased, Amar Solanke

Amar Solanke always wanted to be a policeman. Ever since he completed his SSC, Amar Solanke’s day used to begin with a 1,600-metre run at the local police grounds. After that he used to go for his job as driver at the zilla parishad school in Amravati. If he got a break, Amar would study the books he always packed with him. On February 21, as he was on the verge of realising his dreams, Amar, 24, collapsed after finishing his trials, and died. 

Amar is one of the two people who have died so far in Mumbai from among the thousands who have arrived from all over the state for the recruitment drive for police jobs—mostly constables and drivers.

mid-day has reported about how these candidates have been forced to sleep rough and defecate in the open due to poor planning by authorities.

Amar SolankeAmar Solanke

Amar’s elder brother Aakash, 26, told mid-day, “He used to exercise for three hours. He used to start his runs at 5.30 am sharp, after which he practiced shot put. He also completed a two-year veterinary course and an agriculture course in organic farming.”

‘Never complained’

Aakash said his brother shared a video from Kalina, where he and thousands of other candidates were sleeping on the road and footpath.

“He also posted the video on social media before his death,” said Aakash. “He was nonetheless very happy to get the opportunity and was very confident of getting selected. He didn’t even complain about the lack of facilities. He told us it was just for a day and that he would sleep on the road and do whatever it takes to achieve his childhood dream.”

Amar arrived in Mumbai on February 19 and checked into a hotel near Kalina. The next day he checked out and reached the Mumbai University gate. He spent the day on the road and slept on the footpath when night fell. On February 21, Amar completed both tests–a 1,600-metre run and shot put. He called his family at around 11 am and told them he is going to a hotel at CSMT.

Also Read: Remember, crooks can smell your desperation

Vomited and collapsed

“He went for a bath and started vomiting,” said Aakash. “When he came out after bathing he collapsed. Our cousin rushed him to the local hospital, where he was declared dead before admission. The police called us and told us to come to Mumbai as Amar was not keeping well. When I reached Mumbai, the police showed me his dead body and told me that he had had a heart attack.”

Family of cops

The Solanke family, which has a lot of policemen including Amar’s father Ashokrao, said the authorities must take Amar’s case as a cautionary tale and improve basic facilities for the candidates, considering it is common knowledge that thousands of young men and women from all over Maharashtra reach Mumbai for the selection process for a few hundred jobs.

“Water, bedding and toilets should be basic at the test venues,” said Aakash. “We request the administration department of police recruitment to give basic facilities to all candidates who come to Mumbai from far away places to fulfill their dreams. These candidates are the future of the police department.”

‘We’ll do it for Amar’

Despite the tragedy, Aakash and sister Anchal, 22, have resolved to pursue their dreams of joining the police ranks. “It is my dream also,” said Aakash, who has been training since 2011 and appearing for exams without much success. Last year, he 
fell short of the cut-off by three marks. “I lost my brother but I will join the police department. We don’t have any complaints with the department. I am inspired by my father Ashokrao Solanke, who was a constable in the Nashik police.” Their sister Aanchal said: “I am inspired by my grandfather Gulabrao Solanke, who retired as a sub-inspector in 1998. I applied for the constable’s exam in Yavatmal, but lost out by two marks. I will succeed one day. Aakash and I will fulfill Amar’s dream.” 

21 Feb
Day Amar Solanke passed away

17 Feb
Day Ganesh Ugale lost his life

No. of hours that Amar exercised daily

‘He has left me alone with both our dreams’

Ganesh Ugale

Much like the Solanke family, Ganesh Ugale, 26, and his cousin Mangesh Chaudhari, AGE, arrived in Mumbai on February 16, with dreams in their eyes. Today, only Mangesh survives. Ganesh collapsed immediately after his test at the Kalina grounds on February 17 and was declared dead on arrival at the VN Desai Hospital. The post-mortem could not determine the cause of 
death clearly.

Hailing from a family of farmers, Ganesh and Mangesh slept at the home of an acquaintance before turning up for their physical test at 11 am on February 17 at the Kalina centre.

“Suddenly, I could not find Ganesh,” Mangesh told mid-day. “When I asked the officers, they said he collapsed and was admitted to the hospital. When I finished my test, a senior officer asked me to inform his family that he is unwell. I informed his family and rushed to the hospital where doctors told me he is no more. We both dreamed of becoming policemen. We started this journey together but he has left me alone. My only request now is that Ganesh’s family gets some financial help from government.”

‘Hard to believe he died running 1,600 m’ 

Milind SomanMilind Soman

Fitness model and actor Milind Soman told mid-day, “Running 1,600 metres is not a big deal for any youth and nobody dies because of running that distance. Any youth who is running a marathon also runs at least three kilometres daily. It’s shocking that a 25-26-year-old candidate died after running 1,600 metres. I am not a doctor but as a fitness model I would say that there could be some other reasons behind candidates collapsing after running. Running is good for health but 1,600 metres is too short a distance and there are low chances of it having adverse effects on the runner. 

The doctors who performed the postmortem should find out the exact cause of death of the candidates. They should also find out whether the candidate was suffering from any disease or whether he was under any stress because of some reason. But according to me no youth can die from running 1,600 metres.”

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