It was the first time that Suresh Shah, 68, and his wife Dipika, 65, were travelling in a train’s sleeper class instead of the air-conditioned coach for their annual pilgrimage to Dakor in Gujarat. The couple lost their lives after their coach caught fire.
The couple, who are remembered as “religious and good in nature”, had been going to Dakor once a year for the past seven years. “Suresh always used to travel in the AC coach. When his daughter-in-law asked him why he had booked in the sleeper coach this time, he had said that he did not get the AC reservation,” said Navin, Shah’s older brother. “Who knew that it would be the end.”
The Shahs lived with their eldest son in Amrut Nagar, Ghatkopar, and their family heard of their death from a close friend of Devika’s, the last person who had spoken to her before the train left Mumbai. “The police called the last dialed number on Dipika’s phone and informed the friend, who called their eldest son, Nikhil,” Navin said.
Shah used to run an electrical appliances business at Masjid Bunder, but over the past few years, he had handed over the business to two of his sons and was engaged in social work. “Suresh has three sons — the older two looked after the business, while his youngest son works in the US.
After retiring, he was actively involved in working for the cause of senior citizens. He would organise Aadhar card enrolment camps, electoral card enrolment camps and such,” said Heena Patani, the Shahs’ neighbours for more than 25 years.