|Flowers, candles and black wristbands were the symbols of mourning and protest at a peace rally organised by students on Sunday, after the Pune blast claimed another young life from the city. Picture by Sanat Kumar Sinha
|Rajeev Agarwala, who would have turned 23 on February 24
Rajeev Agarwala, a Calcutta boy injured in the German Bakery blast, died at a Pune hospital on Sunday morning after a weeklong battle for life.
The final-year law student from Girish Park would have turned 23 on February 24 and in another few months got his law degree from the Symbiosis Law School in Pune.
“He wanted to be a successful legal professional like his father… He used to say, I will try and ensure justice for the people,” recalled cousin Shyam, as relatives and neighbours flooded the Agarwalas’ home at 25/1 Baranasi Ghosh Lane in the Girish Park area.
Rajeev’s parents — Nand Kumar and Madhu — left for Pune along with his sister Radhika a day after the February 13 blast. Their elder son, Ravi, who works at an IT firm in Vadodara, joined them.
The family went into shock, said friends, after the doctors at Jehangir Hospital declared Rajeev dead around 6am on Sunday. The cremation took place in Pune’s Vaikunth Crematorium around 4pm.
Like the other three youths from the city — siblings Anindyee and Ankik Dhar and Shilpa Goenka — who died in the blast, Rajeev was also an ex-student of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.
Students of the Salt Lake school organised a rally from the Park Circus Maidan to Vivekananda Park in south Calcutta on Sunday afternoon to mourn the departed and condemn terror attacks.
More than 800 students from various educational institutions, as well as parents and relatives of Shilpa, joined the 4km march organised under the banner of Peace for Youth.
“I pray no other mother faces such a loss…. It’s shocking that when these kids (in the rally) are rallying to the cause, there is not even a condolence message from the government,” Shilpa’s mother Nilam said while lighting a candle in the memory of her 23-year-old daughter.
“Calcutta and Pune are united in this hour of crisis. We have to fight terrorism,” said Vinay Bahety, a student of JD Birla Institute of Management and a rally participant.
At Rajeev’s Girish Park home, 66-year-old Ram Gopal Agarwala and Sashi Prabha, maternal uncle and aunt of the youth, were struggling to hold back tears. “We knew he was critical but were hoping against hope,” said Shyam.
Just two days before the blast, Rajeev had called up his parents and told them that he would spend two months in Calcutta to prepare for his finals, scheduled for April.
The Agarwala family will now return home on Monday, with Rajeev’s ashes.
Rajeev, Abhishek Saxena from Lucknow and three other friends had gone to German Bakery for tea and snacks on February 13. Rajeev and Abhishek were admitted to hospital in a critical condition while the other three escaped with minor injuries. Abhishek died on February 17.
According to doctors in Pune’s Jehangir Hospital, Rajeev was admitted within minutes of the evening blast and the blood loss was controlled.
“But he had suffered 70 per cent burns and severe internal injuries. Pieces of shrapnel were found in his body and parts of his respiratory system were ruptured,” Sainath Pradhan, who had treated Rajeev, told Metro from Pune.
“Rajeev was on ventilation from day one… His two kidneys failed last Sunday,” Rakesh Agarwal, a relative, said over the phone from Pune.
On Wednesday, his right leg, which had multiple fractures, had been amputated knee downward. Family members said an amputation on the other leg was also discussed but the doctors later dropped the idea.
Hours after Rajeev died on Sunday, another blast victim succumbed to his injuries. The death of 24-year-old Vikas Tulsiani, hailing from Delhi and studying engineering at DY Patil College, took the blast toll to 15.