Bharatpur: Jawahar Singh is lucky to be alive. Recuperating at a private hospital, the 32-year-old, however, can’t stop cursing his fate.
A resident of Malipur village in Bharatpur, he was present at the marriage ground in Bharatpur Wednesday night when a 13-ft high and nearly 90-ft long boundary wall at the venue came crashing down on the wedding guests leaving 24 people dead and nearly four dozen injured. Among the victims were Jawahar’s wife, 28-year-old Anuradha, and son, eight-year-old Prince.
Jawahar escaped as he had moved to the other side of the venue to get ice-cream that his son wanted.
A dust storm was raging and rain was coming down in torrents when the wall of the Annapurna Marriage Home came down burying people having dinner there under bricks, mortar, and concrete. Jawahar had been gone for only a few minutes — long enough for his life to have changed forever.
“We were having dinner when Prince said he wanted ice-cream. He insisted on having it immediately so I left him and wife there to get the ice-cream from the other side. By the time I came back, my wife and son were dead,” Jawahar said.
The food for the feast and the dishes lay scattered everywhere as were the bodies of the dead and the injured. Shrieks and cries of help could be heard coming from inside the debris.
The wedding guests helped each other in rescuing people and retrieving the bodies. Among the victims were Ashok Saini, Madan Saini, and Vinod Saini and his wife Geeta Devi --- all relatives of Kirorilal Saini, the father of the bride.
A resident of Malipura village, Kirorilal had fixed his third daughter Asha’s marriage with Johri Bazar resident Deepchand Saini’s son Dharmendra.
“We wanted to hold the wedding function at my resident but agreed Deepchand wanted to go for a bigger venue as he intended to invite some VIPs. He selected Annapurna Marriage Home,” Kirorilal said.
The bride and groom were getting ready for the rituals when tragedy struck. The wedding rituals were completed at Kirorilal’s resident late in the night.
Also among the victims were Sewar residents Gulraj Jatav, 42, and his wife Rajkumari, 40. Their 6-year-old son Dev survived.
Those who survived and the victims’ families are sore at what they termed as “government apathy” and fleecing by the hospitals.
Jagvir Singh lost a son, 18-year-old Krishan Kumar, in the incident. His other son Satvir Singh is admitted to a private hospital.
Jagvir said they first rushed Satvir to the district hospital for treatment. However, the there was a power cut and hospital’s back-up generator was also not functioning so they moved Satvir to a private hospital.
“We paid ₹10,500 to the hospital for treatment. The chief minister and the health minister had assured of free treatment,” he said.
Hours after the mishap, health minister kalicharan Saraf had announced compensation of ₹2 lakh to the kin of the deceased and ₹50,000 to the seriously injured. CM Vasundhara Raje who visited Bharatpur late Thursday announced free of cost treatment to the injured.
Jawahar Singh’s father Uday Singh said he would send a memorandum to the CM seeking strict action against all the marriage homes in the district. He also alleged that the gold jewellery that the women victims had been wearing was found stolen.
District Collector of Bharatpur Narendra Kumar Gupta, however, said they have not received any such complaint of ornament theft. “We will inquire into it,” he added.
Meanwhile, tourism minister and Nadbai MLA Krishnendra Kaur Deepa reached district hospital Friday to meet the injured, nearly 36 hours after the incident. Asked for the reason behind the delay, she said, “I was busy in a programme in Rajsamand”.
Marriage hall owner held
Police late Thursday arrested the Annapurna Marriage Home’s director, Bharatlal Sharma, and manager Vinod Jatav. Both have been booked under Sections 304, 308 of Indian Penal Code. Bharatpur district collector N K Gupta had Thursday said that as per preliminary investigation, “there was no permission with the marriage home owner to run the establishment.” Twenty-four people, including five children, were killed when the boundary wall of the marriage home collapsed Wednesday during a wedding.