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Cleaner who died in sewer in Delhi lost his infant son six days ago

ust six days before Anil, a daily wage labourer, died while cleaning a sewer in west Delhi’s Dabri on Friday, he had lost his four-month-old son to pneumonia

delhi Updated: Sep 17, 2018 02:40 IST
Shiv Sunny
Shiv Sunny
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Delhi,Sewer,Cleaner
Anil’s wife Rani (R) at the Manglapuri crematorium.(HT Photo)

Just six days before Anil, a daily wage labourer, died while cleaning a sewer in west Delhi’s Dabri on Friday, he had lost his four-month-old son to pneumonia. But his poverty did not allow him even one day to grieve his son’s loss. “We cremated our son in the evening (of September 8) and the next morning, Anil had to leave for work. Only my children were around me while I grieved the loss of my child,” Anil’s wife Rani said.

At the Manglapuri crematorium on Sunday evening, Rani found herself alone as her husband’s body lay wrapped in a white sheet nearby. Her two daughters, aged seven and three, sat close while her 11-year-old son stared blankly before suddenly walking up to his father’s body. He removed the sheet covering his father’s face and held his cheeks in his little hands before breaking down. “Papa”, was all he had to say as he cried. Anil had got him admitted to a government school in Dabri on Friday, hours before he died. “I had dropped out of another school a year ago because of bad food but my father wanted me to study,” the boy said.

Not only did the family have no one to mourn the death with, they did not have money to pay for the last rites also. “We have arranged the money for the cremation,” said Raja Walia, a resident of the neighbourhood where Anil died. With barely half-a-dozen people in attendance, the cremation was rushed through.

Rani’s neighbours said the family had struggled to make ends meet. A day before their toddler died, Anil asked his neighbours for money to buy medicines. “We wanted to help but did not have any money ourselves,” Karan Singh Mahat, a neighbour, said.

Rani said she had got the baby admitted at a government hospital but was forced to bring him back last month despite doctors insisting that the child needed hospital care. “Since I had to be at the hospital, my other children were not taken care of as my husband had to leave for work every morning. I didn’t know pneumonia was so dangerous,” Rani said.

She had called her husband on his mobile phone minutes before his death. He casually asked her to come over but when she reached, she saw that a large crowd had gathered on the road. “People said that a labourer had died inside the sewer. I pushed through to find my husband’s footwear near the drain. I knew it was him,” Rani said.

First Published: Sep 17, 2018 02:40 IST