Mumbai: For more than 4 decades, Bhagwati Yadav, a street-side vendor sold pani puris in south Mumbai’s Napean Sea Road, which secured him a special place in the hearts of residents of the area. Known for his lip-smacking pani-puris, Yadav was a stickler for cleanliness who used only bottled mineral water, earning him the nickname of ‘Bisleri Panipuriwala’. Also Read - Compassionate Gesture: Mosque in Maharashtra Converted Into Covid-19 Facility, Oxygen Provided to Patients Free of Cost

However, he succumbed to coronavirus on May 23, leaving residents shocked and saddened.

In order to pay their tributes to him, people from south Mumbai joined hands to collect money and help his family, through a crowd-funding platform, and have raised over Rs 2.5 lakh so far, with a target of Rs 5 lakh.

“So far, there are contributions of around Rs 2.53 lakh from some 125 plus of his patrons in India and abroad, on the platform, fundraiser for the panipuri wala,” said resident Girish Agarwal, who launched the crowd-funding drive for Yadav’s family.

In a moving fundraising appeal, he wrote, “The virus that affected the lives of all of us, unfortunately, took the life of Yadavji. While we can try to find another snacking spot, his family will gravely miss a loving father, husband, and provider. They need our support. That’s why we’ve created this page to contribute whatever you feel fit. And will make sure your generosity reaches his wife and his daughter Kusum.”

Notably, Bhagvati Yadav, who ran a small panipuri stall at the Rungta Lane near the posh Napean Sea Road, traveled from his tiny home in Mata Parvati Nagar at nearby Walkeshwar daily since the past 46 years.

Talking to PTI, Girish Agarwal recalled, ”Yadavji had been doing his business since the 46 years, which is much before I was born. Whether summer or monsoon, he was always there between 5 pm and 9 pm and the taste of his pani-puri never changed.”

Another resident A Shah said that he had been frequenting Yadav’s stall for over three decades for the hygiene and “unchanged taste” he always maintained, and he was sad to learn of his passing.

As per reports, he was a diabetic and had been admitted to a hospital and in the third week of May, where he succumbed to COVID-19.

Moved by the generosity shown by the people who raised the funds, Yadav’s daughter Kusum told PTI that her family members were overwhelmed by the support shown by the people.