In order to ensure that a bereaved father was able to conduct his five-year-old son’s last rites, a team of nine policemen trudged through filthy drains and kept vigil at beaches for six days, determined to not rest till the boy’s body was found. The minor was playing near his residence in Amrut Nagar, Goregaon when he fell into an uncovered sewage drain on July 18.
On July 19, police sub-inspector Vaibhav Salunke, who was appointed as the investigating officer of the case, and eight other personnel drew up a map of the western and northern suburbs. One by one, they inserted pins into allthe water bodies shown on the map. Subsequently, a team was dispatched to the marked water bodies for scouring the minor's cadaver.
“We believed that the body would flow towards Malad, via drains located at Jogeshwari and Andheri. However, due to frequent heavy rains at that time, the flow of water was difficult to anticipate,” said Salunke.
The police team started checking everyday whether anything resembling a human body was visible inside the drains, while also keeping a watch on beaches like Aksa.
“The problems we faced were that there were layers of piled-up garbage in many of the drains, which can hinder the flow or trap the body, or at worst camouflage the body. Several, people from my team had to actually step inside the drains to check if there was a body,” Salunke recalled.
The constant efforts paid off on July 24, when the body emerged into the sea at Aksa and was immediately spotted by the police. It was subsequently handed over to his father. The grieving father had even tried to jump inside the drain to look for his child on the day of the incident but was pulled up by fire brigade personnel. Salunke’s team made sure that they gave him daily updates abouttheir efforts, and assured him that they were not giving up on his little boy.
“The rainy season has barely begun and tragedy has already struck. Are we waiting for bigger disasters before the civic administration gets down to covering the drains?” the distraught father said while speaking to The FPJ.