A depressing procession of shrouds made its way through a grieving crowd assembled outside the mortuary of Sanjay Gandhi Hospital on Friday evening.
The families of the 10 workers, who were allegedly locked inside the blazing confines of their workspace in a factory on Peeragarhi, waited patiently to claim the remains of the dead.
According to the families, their employer turned the power off and escaped with cash and important documents on Wednesday evening while the three-storey manufacturing unit burned down.
"What has happened has happened. My brother will not come back, but I have to bear and execute the moral responsibility of claiming his body on behalf of his wife and three young daughters," said Rajesh Gupta (35), who reached the mortuary at 8am to claim whatever remained of his 45-year-old elder brother Chandrashekhar Gupta.
The slightest recollection of his journey two decades ago, in a crowded local train compartment, beside Chandrashekhar from their home in Bihar's Pratapganj district, was enough to bring tears gushing into Rajesh's reddened eyes.
Chandrashekhar was one of the several bodies, who according to the fire officials, were found clinging to each other after their attempts to wriggle out of the inferno proved futile.
"There were at least ten to 12 of them, stuck to each other and had to be carried out in a single file by at least 15 men. Someone's arms were missing and someone's leg was found after the rest of his body had been dispatched to the hospital. My 47-year-old brother Rajkumar and his 22-year-old son were among them," said Rajesh Singh, a resident of Uttam Nagar.
Separated using special instruments before another painstaking identification procedure, there wasn't much the hospital authorities could do before handing them over to their claimants.
The charred bodies were shrouded in white sheets, loaded in small goods-carrying vehicles and dispatched as their relatives followed decrying the loss of a precious life and, in most cases, the sole earning member if their clan.
"We have arrested the factory's owner, Narendra Singhla and the facility's director-cum-manager, Subhash Khullar for causing death due to negligence," said V Renganathan, additional commissioner of police (west).