A week after the district administration demolished his house at Bhimnagar in Kalwa, 27-year-old Vijay Avsarmol, suffered a fatal electric shock when he accidentally stepped on a live wire while trying to put up a tent for his family.
The incident occurred at the spot where the slum that Vijay, a daily wage labourer, lived in once stood. The slum was demolished on October 6, after the Bombay High Court ordered the district collector to clear encroachments.
Vijay’s mother, Kantibai, who works as a cleaner at the collector’s office, and his father, Tanaji, blamed the district administration for his death. “My son died due to their negligence,” Tanaji, also a labourer, said. “They left the wires all open.”
Vijay’s wife and two daughters, aged four and one, were sent to the family’s native place after the demolition. Vijay and his parents continued to stay at the spot. “The collector should visit our area and rehabilitate the 30 families living here,” Tanaji said. “If our demand is not met within 12 hours, we will take my son’s body to the collector’s office.” Fifty-year-old Tanaji has written to the collector’s office about the alleged negligence.
AL Jarhad, district collector, said: “The police will conduct an investigation into how he [Vijay] suffered an electric shock. Only then will we know the reason.”
The Kalwa police have registered a case of accidental death.
Kantibai, 48, claimed the family has been living in Thane for 20 years but is displaced every two to three years. “They didn’t even give us a notice,” she said about the recent demolition. “What kind of a government is this that doesn’t give shelter to its people?”
Eknath Shinde, member of legislative assembly from the Shiv Sena, held the government responsible for Vijay’s death. “We have been telling the government to first rehabilitate the people and then carry out demolitions. These are people who have been staying here for years,” Shinde said.