Day after 2 die cleaning tank, families claim it was accident
A day after the police said two workers had died after allegedly inhaling a toxic gas while cleaning a septic tank at a manufacturing company of automobile parts in Narsinghpur, the families of both the deceased submitted a written statement to the police, stating that it was an accident.
Mukesh Kumar, station house officer (SHO), Badshahpur police station, said, “The family members of the deceased said that the incident was an accident. They said one of the workers had gone into the septic tank and was holding a suction pipe when suddenly he slipped as there was some water in the tank.
Another worker used a ladder and got inside the tank to help him, but he too slipped. They had both drowned according to the statement. The family did not allege any negligence on part of the company or the contractor.” No police complaint was filed in the matter.
The police said the bodies of the victims were handed over to their respective families after the post-mortem examination.
At the mortuary, as the body of Shiv Kumar (33) was being lowered onto a stretcher from an ambulance on Monday, his wife, Babita, pushed aside her relatives, requesting them to let her see her husband one last time. “I just want to see him for the one last time. Please,” she said, sobbing.
His family said Kumar died trying to save Aslam (33), a worker of the housekeeping staff, when the two were allegedly cleaning a septic tank in the automobile parts manufacturing company in Narsinghpur on the Delhi-Jaipur Expressway on Sunday evening.
Kumar, a native of Bhagwanpur, Patna, had been working at the company for over a decade and stayed alone in a rented room in Khandsa village. His wife and two children, a daughter and son, arrived from Patna on Monday morning.
“He was the sole breadwinner in his family of four. He came to the city around 2007-08 from Patna in search of a job. Had he been wearing protective equipment, he could have been saved,” said Vijay, his neighbour from Khandsa village.
On Sunday the police had said that Aslam, 33, was asked to go into the septic tank, after another worker felt exhausted, allegedly to remove a foot of layer of waste from the tank, which had some water in it. While he was using a pump, he felt nauseous allegedly from inhaling a ‘gas’ and fell unconscious. Kumar, who was near the tank, went in to help but he too fell unconscious. A third worker from the safety unit tried to step down into the tank, but started feeling dizzy and was pulled out by co-workers.
The police said the three men were rushed to a private hospital in Khandsa village, where doctors declared Aslam and Kumar dead on arrival. The third worker is said to be stable.
Aslam’s uncle, Haider Ali, said he had met Aslam in Sadar Bazar on Saturday. “We shared a meal two days ago when he had come home to inform me that a relative was visiting our native village and whether I needed to send something for the family. I did not know I would not see him again,” said Ali, adding that Aslam had been working as part of the housekeeping staff at the company for at least three years.
“Earlier, he was working at a garments company but felt insecure. He was the only earning member of the family. Who will look after his wife, son and daughter?” he asked.
On Monday, Aslam’s wife wailed inconsolably, sitting on a ledge outside the mortuary for over three hours till the post-mortem examination was conducted.
Dr Pawan Chaudhary, who conducted the post-mortem examination, said the cause of death was drowning. He added that whether the deaths were due to inhaling a toxic gas, would be known once the viscera sample report is received.
The police said that Aslam and Vijay were hired as helpers by a Faridabad-based company and their services were outsourced.
A member of the union of the automobile parts manufacturing company, Sunbeam Auto Private Limited, requesting anonymity, said, that a settlement had been reached between the families of the deceased and the management.
“The management has provided all the assistance to the families and compensation of ₹20 lakh each would be paid to them,” said the member.
The family members of the deceased, however, denied any such settlement and said that they just wanted to return to their home town for the last rites.
Shakeel, Aslam’s first cousin, said, “No settlement has taken place. We are going to Bihar for the last rites.
“No complaint has been filed against us. The matter is being investigated internally,” VK Singh, deputy general manager, Sunbeam Auto Private Limited, said, adding he was not aware of any such compensation.