Poised on the brink of the mandatory helmet rule being enforced once again, Pune is in a tumult, with numerous citizens and groups actively objecting till the very last moment of implementation. Still others support the diktat, pointing out that in 2017-18 alone, hundreds of fatal road accidents took place in the city — and in the case of a significant number, the two-wheeler rider or pillion involved was not wearing this controversial safety gear, and succumbed to the impact of the crash. In fact, head injuries have been cited as a major reason for fatalities in road mishaps; in some cases, where death occurred despite a helmet being worn, injuries were detected everywhere on the deceased except his or her head.

Ultimately, what remains in the aftermath of any tragic death is mourning kith and kin, who are often forced to live with regret amid the possibility that a simple act of cautiousness may have let their loved one remain alive today. Mirror spoke to some such relatives and friends of those who have become the casualties of road disasters, and found a prominent refrain in their musings — ‘what if’.


var mobile = (/iphone|ipod|android|blackberry|mini|iemobile|sce|palm/i.test(navigator.userAgent.toLowerCase())); if(mobile){var div = document.getElementsByClassName(“vidad”)[0].childNodes[0]; div.setAttribute(“data-slot”,”323287″) var idattr = div.getAttribute(“id”).replace(“323278″,”323287”) div.setAttribute(“id”,idattr); } ~name~~brandtext~ var hideAds = function($containerElem){ if($containerElem && $containerElem.length != 0){ $($containerElem[0].parentNode.parentNode).hide(); } } While tragedies remain a quirk of fate, adhering to road rules is a wish many victims of such mishaps carry ahead into their thoughts. Earlier this year, on the fateful night of September 21, two 23-year-old boys lost their lives on the spot when a bike coming from the wrong side of the road rammed into theirs on Satara Road.

Riding with Rohit Patil and Uday Patil was also friend Rahul Kankhar, seated between the duo — and while all three were not wearing helmets, the middleman was fortunate to have gotten away with his life. The trio was on its way to witness the city’s famed Ganeshotsav celebrations, but this journey and the revelries to follow were left incomplete forever for the young engineers.

Rahul now goes on living with survivor’s guilt. He told Mirror, “We take our lives so much for granted. The three of us were best friends and roommates, planning to appearing for competitive exams together and looking forward to bright futures for ourselves. Whenever I remember that day, I always begin mulling how our lives could have been different, had we just been following road safety rules.

After the accident, I was admitted in a hospital for at least four days, and constantly under heavy medication to get over my injuries. Nobody told me both my friends are no more. When I came to, it was a new shock for me. Each time I meet our other friends today, we all often talk of how things would have been different had we not been riding triple seat or had been wearing helmets.”

He added, “Uday and Rohit both hailed from Nandurbar. Their families are still grappling with their loss.” Affirming this, Rohit’s father, Babusaheb Patil, said, “We are yet to come to terms with a loss of this magnitude. Even today, it feels just like he is studying in Pune, and will return home after a few days.”

The heartbroken father added, “Our conversations would always be peppered with the cautionary remarks parents make — we would constantly ask him to ride safely because the roads in a big city are very different from the ones in our town. We told him to follow all the road rules properly whenever he steps out, and to be careful.”


The immensity of losing a loved one to an unexpected hazard can also bring a sea change in the lives of those forced to go on. Around three years ago, in 2015, a young Kathak dancer was headed on her way to a rehearsal for an upcoming show, when a speeding two-wheeler rammed into her bike from the front, somewhere on the well-worn Rajaram Bridge.

Danseuse Pranjali Niphadkar succumbed to her injuries on the spot — she was unfortunately not wearing a helmet at the time, and her head had hit a sharp stone. The 27-year-old left behind a grieving husband and barely 1.5-year-old son.

The incident wrought a huge shift in the actions of her shocked parent. Now a helmet activist, Pranjali’s father, poet Pradeep Niphadkar, told Mirror, “We all went through an immensely tough time after Pranjali was taken away by that accident.

I hope that no family goes through this — and the sad truth is that much of such misfortune can be prevented. Pune is one of the cities in the country with the most fatalities due to accidents in which persons are not wearing helmets. I cannot bring back my daughter, no matter how much I want to. But I can appeal to more people to start wearing helmets, no matter what. I have distributed thousands of helmets myself by now, and will continue to do so. These days, we see a lot of people saying that in a city like Pune, with such congested roads, helmets are not needed — had that been the case, we would not have been living without our beloved Pranjali today.”


It is an indisputable fact that the city is riddled with faulty civic amenities, which only too regularly cause accidents of their own — sometimes deadly. Last month, around midnight on November 2, another young man was killed in an unexpected road mishap on the Balewadi service road, while returning to his flat from a friend’s house. When his bike hit a faulty and worn-out divider, he was thrown off the vehicle and onto a stone nearby, causing 23-year-old Shubham Nimbalkar to sustain a gory skull injury that killed him immediately. Nimbalkar, who hails from Osmanabad and belongs to a politician’s family, had been studying a Master’s course at the National Institute of Construction Management and Research.

Commenting on the loss of his child, father Sanjay Nimbalkar shared, “We keep on thinking how things could have been different if Shubham had been wearing a helmet that night, like he usually would — ironically, there were very times that he did not wear a helmet while riding. The only injury he had was on his head — there was not a single scratch on the rest of his body. If there was even a little hope of his survival, we would have taken all steps to save him, with the best available treatment — but nothing could be done.

It is a miserable destiny, and we pray that no one should go through this. People should learn from such incidents. Everyone, especially youngsters, should be very careful and wear helmets every time they step out.”


There are plenty of cases in which riders usually wear helmets as a rule, but on the few occasions they forget to do so, tragedy strikes. On July 6, 2018, 29-year old techie and Baner resident, Tasmiya Mohsin Desai, was riding her two-wheeler in the morning, going about the routine of an ordinary day. Little did she know that on her way to her workplace in Chinchwad, her vehicle would slip from under her, leaving her at the mercy of a bus that would kill her right away. Although concerned passers-by rushed Tasmiya to the Yashwantrao Chavan Memorial Hospital in Pimpri, doctors there declared her dead on arrival. Witnesses that day testified that the two-wheeler had skidded on the road, and what happened was not the fault of the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) bus driver — but either way, Tasmiya may have lived had she been wearing a helmet.

Still in grief, a member of Tasmiya’s family told Mirror, “She would wear a helmet on and off. It was not as though she always rode without a helmet. But circumstances were cruel to us, because she just happened to not be wearing the safety gear on that day. In fact, Tasmiya was also extremely careful while riding her bike, and had been doing so for many years, with not a single accident taking place. It is not how one drives on the road that can subject you to such calamities. We do think everyone should take wearing a helmet on these roads very seriously.”

I cannot bring back my daughter, no matter how much I want to. But I can appeal to more people to start wearing helmet

Pradeep Niphadkar, father of Pranjali Niphadkar, who is now a helmet activist

It is not how one drives on the road that can subject you to such calamities. We do think everyone should take wearing a helmet on these roads very seriously

A member of Tasmiya Mohsin Desai’s family

Whenever I remember that day, I always begin mulling how our lives could have been different, had we just been following road safety rules

Rahul Kankhar, who survived the accident in which two of his friends died

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