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Last surviving victim of 2006 Mumbai blasts dies

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Mumbai: After remaining in a coma for several years, the last of the injured survivors of serial blasts on Mumbai suburban trains on July 11, 2006, died here early Tuesday, officials said.

A Bhayander resident, Parag Sawant, 36, had sustained serious head injuries and brain trauma in a blast on one such train.

He is survived by his wife Priti and eight-year-old daughter Praniti. Sawant never saw his only child as she was born after he went into a coma. His wife was given a job in the Indian Railways to help sustain the family.

During is long stay at the hospital, Parag Sawant became a popular figure among the people for his will to live. He regained consciousness briefly in 2008, and was visited by personalities like former deputy prime minister L.K. Advani and union minister Sushma Swaraj.

The 7/11 serial blasts on Mumbai suburban trains were carried out in a time span of barely 11 minutes, targetting crowded suburban train services during evening peak hours.

As many as 209 commuters were killed and more than 700 others injured as bombs kept in pressure cookers went off in north-bound locals of the Western Railway at Bhayander, Borivali, Jogeshwari, Khar Road, Bandra, Mahim and Matunga Road. One unexploded bomb was found by police and defused at Borivali.

Then aged 27, Sawant was travelling in a Churchgate-Virar train to his home when a bomb ripped apart a coach near Bhayander, a suburban town in adjoining Thane district.

He was rushed to Bhaktivedanta Hospital on Mira Road and later shifted to P.D. Hinduja Hospital in south Mumbai.

He remained in a coma for about two years, said consultant neurosurgeon Dr. B.K. Misra, who attended on him.

“His condition gradually improved to a semi-conscious state, in which he understood simple commands. He underwent multiple operations for brain treatment and was thereafter on supportive care and physiotherapy for a few years,” Misra recalled.

A nurse had checked on Sawant early Tuesday, and found him stable. However, at around 6 a.m., the oxygen level in his blood dropped and he was put on oxygen to stabilise his breathing.

“He suffered sudden cardio-respiratory arrest, after which a cardio-pulmonary resuscitation team took all measures to revive him but in vain. Parag Sawant was declared dead at 6:54 a.m due to cardio-respiratory arrest. The most likely cause of immediate deterioration in his condition is pulmonary embolism,” Misra said.

Hospital director and senior medico Sanjay Agarwala said the staff rendered utmost care to Sawant during his stay at the hospital for almost nine years.

“I am sad to hear the news. In fact, last week, I was discussing with his family members my plans to visit Parag at the hospital on the ninth anniversary of the 7/11 blasts on Saturday. His family and Parag took the tragedy bravely,” said Kirit Somaiya, BJP parliamentarian from Mumbai North-East.

(With inputs from IANS)

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The Families Of Victims In Railway Accident Incident In India Stage Protests

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the accident a "heart-wrenching tragedy" and asked officials to provide immediate assistance to the injured.

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People gather at the site of an accident after a train traveling at high speed ploughed through a crowd of people on rail tracks near Amritsar, India. VOA

Angry relatives of the scores of people who were killed in India when they were run over by a speeding train staged protests Saturday while one of the country’s railway officials maintains the railway is not responsible for the tragic accident.

The train was traveling at high speed when it ploughed through a crowd Friday at a religious festival on the outskirts of the northern city of Amritsar, killing 59 people, Punjab state’s Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, told reporters Saturday. Singh said 57 others were injured and an official investigation would be carried out over the next four weeks.

The Jalandhar-Amritsar express was traveling at 90 kilometers per hour when it hit the crowd, which had gathered on the tracks to watch a fireworks display marking the Hindu festival of Dussehra.

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The Hindu festival of Dussehra.

Hundreds of relatives of the victims engaged in sporadic protests on and near the tracks Saturday, calling for action against local authorities and the train operator, who was questioned Saturday by police.

Authorities moved the protestors off the tracks and brought in reinforcements to control the crowd.

‘No lapse on our part’

The railway accident was India’s worst in years, but the junior minister who manages Indian Railways, the world’s fourth largest rail system, refused to accept responsibility.

Railway
A man mourns next to the burning pyre of a family member who died after a train traveling at high speed ploughed through a crowd of people, at a cremation site in Amritsar, India. VOA

“Railways cannot be blamed. Railways were not informed about the ceremony,” Manoj Sinha told reporters Saturday. Speaking to reporters, Sinha ruled out any punitive action against his staff, saying, “There was no lapse on our part and no action against the driver will be initiated.”

Local government officials said the festival takes place every year on the outskirts of Amritsar and that railroad authorities are alerted to run the trains at slow speeds.

Witnesses said the victims did not realize the train was coming because of the sound of the fireworks and celebrations.

‘Heart-wrenching’

Some witnesses said the train did not sound its whistle as it sped past the festival site.

Railway
With India, Indian Railway is also digitizing, Pixels

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the accident a “heart-wrenching tragedy” and asked officials to provide immediate assistance to the injured.

Also Read: India Continues Engaging With USA Over H-1B Passport Issue

India’s railway network remains the main form of travel in the vast country, where railway accidents are relatively common.

Millions of Hindus celebrate the Dussehra festival by burning giant effigies of the demon Ravana, symbolizing the triumph of good over evil. (VOA)