Shortly before 4 pm on Wednesday, two uniformed Parliament employees carrying a black, collapsible stretcher rushed towards lift number 5, about 50 metres to the right of the entrance to the Rajya Sabha Press Gallery on the first floor.
Two security officials trotted behind them saying “jaldi karo, jaldi karo (hurry up)”.
Lift number 5 was stuck between floors two and three with eight occupants, including two women.
“They (the people inside the lift) have been stuck there for more than two hours now,” the security official told the attendants carrying the stretcher.
Some journalists who saw the men with the stretcher followed and within seconds, word spread like wildfire. The initial rumour that a MP was stuck alone inside the OTIS elevator was dispelled within seconds by officials who said “there are seven Rajya Sabha reporters (people who record Parliament proceedings) and a lift operator.”
Parliament sources told HT on condition of anonymity: “The elevator is about 15–20 years old. This is the first time it has got stuck barring the few-second episodes in which all lifts freeze due to power cuts. We learnt later that it was a mechanical failure caused by a jammed motor. Luckily eight people is within the load limit for this lift.”
Though Parliament officials learnt of the lift getting stuck as soon as the incident took place, the Watch and Ward staff were unable to move the lift. “Ordinarily, a stuck lift can be manually raised to the floor above but in this case the jammed motor prevented that,” the official said.
The Delhi Fire Brigade was called in with crow bars and cutters. By then engineers from the elevator company had also arrived. Parliament officials said the lift did not need to be cut.
“Two people, however, felt faint and oxygen had to be pumped in through the vents in the lift shaft. After they were rescued, all eight were checked by the doctors present in the complex but all of them were fine,” a security official said.
The incident found mention in the House later, when senior BJP leader S.S. Ahluwalia raised the matter and mentioned that a few days earlier the roof of Union petroleum minister Murli Deora’s room had also collapsed.