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Delhi building collapse: Landlord didn’t allow us to vacate, says survivor

Vimlesh Kumar, a mason who lost his two sons – Sumnesh,12, and Rajnesh,4 — blamed his landlord, identified by his single name Dharmendra, for the tragedy, alleging he had not been allowing them to vacate the building

delhi Updated: Sep 27, 2018 01:52 IST
Karn Pratap Singh and Vibha Sharma
Karn Pratap Singh and Vibha Sharma
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Delhi building collapse,Building collapse,Delhi
Rescuers carry a survivor amidst the rubble after a building collapsed in New Delhi, India, September 26, 2018. (REUTERS)

Poor financial condition, fear of unemployment, and the assurance of their landlord to shift them in a new house soon were the reasons that had made the four families continue living in the five-storey building even when it had started tilting dangerously for the last one year. Seven people were killed and at least five others injured after the building collapsed on Wednesday morning.

Vimlesh Kumar, a mason who lost his two sons – Sumnesh,12, and Rajnesh,4 — blamed his landlord, identified by his single name Dharmendra, for the tragedy, alleging he had not been allowing them to vacate the building.

“The building was tilting and all of us were witnessing it for almost a year. The condition had worsened in the last two months. Whenever we informed Dharmendra about vacating the building, he used to convince us to stay by saying he would move us to a new building soon. He never kept his promise and instead waited for the tragedy to happen. Today, I lost my two sons because of Dharmendra,” said Kumar.

A native of Hardoi in Uttar Pradesh, Kumar had been living with his wife and four children in a room on the third floor for the last four years. He was working as a mason for Dharmendra.

“Dharmendra is a builder and I worked at his construction sites. I used to pay him Rs 4,000 rent. Dharmendra used to stop my wages whenever I told him about vacating the house. He threatened to throw me out of his construction sites,” Kumar said, demanding strict action against Dharmendra.

The other room on the floor was occupied by his uncle, Raj Bahadur, 45, who lived with his wife, four children, and two relatives. A labourer by profession, Bahadur lost his wife Munni in the tragedy while he and his two relatives were injured. His four children had gone to school when the incident took place.

The building collapse could have claimed more lives, if it had taken place an hour or two before. Thirteen occupants, including nine children, had left either for work or for school when the building came crashing down.

At least 10 people, including children playing in the street, had a narrow escape as they ran for their lives . “A vegetable vendor left his cart and fled. Some neighbouring families whose children were playing outside started screaming and looking for their kids,” said Himanshu Swami, who lives nearby.

First Published: Sep 27, 2018 01:52 IST