Stepbrothers Dattarey, 11, and Pratap Padnekar, 9, were supposed to give their last exam on Saturday afternoon, but they never reached school. In the morning, the boys went for a dip in a pit dug up for the metro rail work at Asalpha in Ghatkopar and drowned.
Dattarey was in Class 4 and Pratap in Class 3 at Gyan Prakash School in Ghatkopar.
At 8am, the boys left their house at Parab chawl in Asalpha for tuitions after their father Sayaji, a daily wage labourer, left for their hometown in Ahmednagar to bring his second wife home. Their aunt, Rani, was to take care of them till their parents returned.
After Dattarey’s mother death a few years ago, his father had married Surekha.
While returning from tuitions, they boys decided to go for a swim in the pit dug to place a pillar for the metro rail. No one saw the boys enter the pit. It was at 9.30am that Rajaram Patne, a retired postmaster, saw their bodies. “I saw the boys’ bodies floating in the water and asked my son to inform the police control room. Though the pit was not very deep, the boys drowned because they were short,” said Patne.
The police and fire brigade officials rushed to the spot, fished out the boys’ bodies and rushed them to nearby Rajawadi Hospital. They were declared brought dead by the doctors at the hospital.
The Sakinaka police have recorded the statements of the boys’ family members and witnesses. “We are likely to register a case of causing death due to negligence against Mumbai Metropolitan Region Develop-ment Authority, which is constructing the metro rail, and the contractor,” said S Dhanedhar, senior police inspector of Sakinaka police station.
I have let down their parents, says aunt
“It was just a few hours ago that my brother had asked me and my husband Ramesh to take care of his children. I have let down my brother and his wife,” said an inconsolable Rani, the aunt of the two stepbrothers who drowned in a pit of a metro construction site.
On Saturday morning, daily wage labourer Sayaji Padnekar left for his hometown in Ahmednagar to bring his second wife, Sureka, home. He asked his sister, Rani, who lives close to his Parab chawl residence at Ghatkopar, to take care of his son — Dattatrey, 11, and Pratap, 9.
The boys, who left for tuitions at 8.30am, were to return home after an hour.
But when they did not reach home until 10.30am, Rani panicked because she had to get them ready for their school. The boys were to appear for their last exam at 12.30pm.
“I thought that they might be with their friends and made enquiries with them. But none of their friends had seen them since morning. When I reached the main road and saw a lot of people standing near a pit at the metro construction site. Out of curiosity, I went for a closer look,” said Rani.
She saw two children’s bodies on the ground and it took her a while to realise that they were her nephews. Shocked, Rani collapsed on the spot.
“The boys were mischievous, but good at studies. Dattatrey and Pratap used to often go out to play with their friends without informing their parents,” said a neighbour, who did not wish to be identified.