Cop lucky to survive after being stranded in office lift for 36 hours

Written By Unknown on Selasa, 16 April 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Police inspector Suresh Masaji Sonawane was just a few metres away from his office and yet his family, friends and police teams searched for him in places as far away as his native Solapur. He remained stuck in the lift of his office building for more than 36 hours.

As soon as Sonawane entered the lift on the third floor of his office at Chhatrapati Shivaji market, next to Manish Market, around 2.30pm on Saturday, BMC maintenance workers switched off the power. They had finished repair work on the lift, checked if it was operational and decided to shut down the lift as they thought there was no one else in the building. But by then the lift had started moving and Sonawane was stuck between two floors. He shouted for help for a while and banged on the door, but couldn't be heard as there were very few people in the building on a second Saturday. On Monday, when the building's security personnel switched on the power and started the lift, they were shocked to see Sonawane, who was missing for two days, pale and lying on the floor of the lift.

More surprising was the fact that Sonawane, who had been keeping ill health and who had been advised not to carry a cell phone since he suffered a brain haemorrhage in 2007, managed to survived for two nights without any fresh air, water and food in the lift, amid the overpowering stench.

The irony is that Sonawane is attached to the Mumbai police's missing persons bureau and helps track missing people in the city.

The MRA Marg police, with whom Sonawane's wife had filed a missing report when he didn't return home on Saturday, have now summoned the BMC officials in charge of the electric maintenance department who were carrying out repair work on the two lifts. "Soon after he was found, his wife took him to a hospital in Thane. We have asked Sonawane to come to the police station on Tuesday so that we can investigate how the incident occurred. The outcome could have been worse," said P Juikar, senior inspector of MRA Marg. Police had no idea how he managed to survive two nights in the lift.

MRA Marg police said Sonawane's wife Arundhati filed a complaint on Saturday evening stating that her husband was missing since Saturday afternoon. "His wife said he went to work as usual on Saturday morning and she spoke to him at around noon, but a few hours later he was unavailable on the office landline," said a policeman.

When she called later, some of Sonawane's colleagues told Arundhati that they last saw him at around 2pm when he told them he was stepping out, but he never returned. Worried, Arundhati then called up some of his other colleagues who said they he could have left early as it was a half-day.

With no news of him till evening, Arundhati then rushed to her husband's office at Masjid Bunder around 8pm, but by then all the policemen had left and the office was locked. The six-storey building houses offices of Mumbai district central co-operative banks, the BMC, Crawford Market, the Mumbai police's missing persons bureau, octroi and fisheries departments. She immediately approached MRA Marg police. She, her daughter and family friends also started calling up Sonawane's old friends and close relatives, searching for him.

Sonawane's wife was worried on account of his ill health and hence we took no chances and even sent a team to Solapur to Sonawane's native place but there was no trace of him,a said Juikar.

A 1991 batch officer, Sonawane has worked in several police stations in Mumbai, Thane and even with the Railway police during his 23 years of service. Arundhati told police that his health deteriorated since 2007 when he suffered a brain haemorrhage and since then preferred to take up low-profile postings. He underwent neurosurgery in 2008.

Arundhati told police that since the incident, doctors had advised him not to use cellphones as the radiation may harm his brain. aœIf Sonawane had a cellphone with him, he would have been able to call for help. We are wondering how Sonawane spend two nights without light and air in the building which stinks so strongly of fisha"it is difficult to bear the smell for even half an hour. We are amazed,a said a senior crime branch official who had been monitoring the search operations since Saturday.

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