Bawana fire tragedy: No bank accounts to encash cheques, say kin of victims
Seventeen people had died in that incident with the family members of the victims receiving compensation cheques of Rs 5 lakh each from the state government on January 24.delhi Updated: Feb 12, 2018 16:42 IST
A narrow street leads to a two-room house of 65-year-old Shamshudin at Metro Vihar in Bawana. The daily wage labourer lives with two sons and four daughters. Shamshudin lost his wife in a massive fire that broke out in a factory at Bawana on January 20.
Seventeen people had died in that incident with the family members of the victims receiving compensation cheques of Rs 5 lakh each from the state government on January 24. Shamshudin was one of them.
More than two-weeks after the incident, that cheque remains neatly folded in the pocket of his old coat. Shamshudin says he has failed to encash it as he doesn’t have a bank account and can’t open one in the absence of any valid identity proof document with him.
Though, a number of families of the tragedy said that they had received the compensation amount, HT met at least four families who had either not been able to encash their cheques or were in their villages to perform the last rites of their loved ones at the time the cheques were being distributed.
Delhi government spokesperson Arunoday Prakash said that they are looking into the matter. “Those who have not received the cheques will get them in due time from the revenue department. We will also inform the local authorities, including the SDM concerned, to get in touch with such families. Also, those who do not have bank accounts will receive help in opening one. They needn’t worry,” he said.
People affected by the fire said the compensation can go a long way in helping them start their lives again. Shamshudin, for instance, was hoping to spend the money on the medical treatment of two of his children, who are mentally challenged. Also, he wanted to fix the water leaks in the corners of his house.
“I have stopped going to work. All I am doing these days is going to the banks and meeting officials. The cheque will become invalid after three months. So that is my biggest worry. I have applied for a Aadhaar card. When that is made, I can open a bank account. But I don’t know how much time it will take,” said Shamshudin.
Two houses away from Shamshudin’s house, lives the family of Rajjo (55), who perished in the fire tragedy. Her four children received a cheque of Rs 1.25 lakh each. However, the name on the cheque belonging to Rajjo’s eldest daughter Sunita (30) was misspelt as ‘Sunil’.
Being illiterate, she didn’t realise it immediately on receiving the cheque. It was only after she went to a bank that it was pointed out to her. Sunita says it’s her fault. At the time of submitting identity proofs before distribution of cheques, she had submitted a document that had her name wrong, which in turn were printed on the cheque.
“I feel helpless. I am not educated enough to know what to do next. This cheque now feels like a burden. I do not understand how to get the name on the cheque corrected, or whom to approach for help,” said Sunita.
Another victim, Mahipal (45), whose wife died in the fire, says he never received the compensation cheque. He says he had taken his wife’s body to his village in Uttar Pradesh to perform her last rites. Mahipal says that he wasn’t present in Metro Vihar when chief minister Arvind Kejriwal distributed the cheques among the kin of the victims. He came to know about it only after he returned from the village a week later.