Five people, including three minors, were killed on Saturday morning after getting trapped in a swampy drain filled with cattle dung in southwest Delhi’s Chhawla.
Police said that the deceased included a father-son duo. They, however, were not sure if the deaths were caused by drowning or due to poisonous gases emanating from inside the dark covered drain.
Ruling out the possibility of any foul play in the incident, Surender Kumar, DCP (southwest), said that the case appeared to be that of an accident. A case of causing death by negligence has been registered at Chhawla police station.
The dead children, Sahidul, Sabikul and Lalchand, were between the age of seven and 11. The deceased men have been identified as Afsae, 30, and his 26-year-old brother-in-law, Hassidul. Sahidul was the son of Hassidul and nephew of Afsae. The five lived in Shyam Kunj area of Chhawla and worked as rag-pickers.
Most portions of the drain, where the incident took place, is covered by a road passing over it. A small branch of the drain leading to some agricultural fields, however, offers an open entry point.
Police said that the incident took place in an area where residents are majorly involved in dairy farming. Local farmers, therefore, often dumped cattle dung in the drain. The chemical reactions that take place in the covered drain causes poisonous gases to form inside, claimed locals. “We get headaches if we stand next to the drain even for a few minutes,” said Raman, a local resident.
“The three minors were playing near the drain around 10am on Sunday, when two of them decided to jump down in it,” said Ram Naresh, an eyewitness. “Two of them got trapped inside. The third boy (Sahidul) ran out to call his relatives for help,” said Naresh, another eye witness.
Sahidul returned with his father and uncle to rescue the trapped boys. The men were armed with torches to find their way inside the dark drain. “All the three entered the drain to rescue the boys. When we called out to them a few minutes later, there was no response. So we informed the police,” said Naresh.
The police and the fire fighters immediately arrived at the spot and opened the drain’s lids. “One of the fire fighters tied himself to a rope and entered the drain to fish out the five one by one,” said a policeman.
According to the eyewitnesses, the five were already dead when they were brought out. The DCP said they were rushed to Rao Tula Rao Hospital.
Police and locals said that the dung-filled drain could have created a swamp, not giving the victims an opportunity to come out of it. The poisonous gases inside then would have caused their deaths, they said.