A house collapsed in the Wednesday night's storm, at Vaishno Colony in Agra on May 3.(PTI Photo)
A house collapsed in the Wednesday night's storm, at Vaishno Colony in Agra on May 3.(PTI Photo)

Killer dust storm snuffs out joys, dreams of several families in UP, Rajasthan

A pall of gloom shrouds several homes as at least 100 people have been killed after a massive storm swept across parts of north India, including Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand on Wednesday.
Hindustan Times, Bharatpur/Agra | By Suresh Foujdar and Hemendra Chaturvedi
UPDATED ON MAY 03, 2018 11:35 PM IST

The killer dust storm that left a swathe of death and destruction in its wake in over half a dozen states on Wednesday changed the destiny of several families in a matter of minutes.

One such young man whose life was snuffed out in the storm’s fury was Bharatpur’s Chandravir Singh, 22. Just a few days ago, Singh’s family in Januthar village was rejoicing his selection as a constable with the Delhi Police.

But their celebration was short-lived as Chandravir was crushed under the debris of a college gate’s pillar that crumbled under the force of the storm that touched speeds of 130 kmph. Two of his friends, who were also preparing for the police recruitment test, died in the same tragedy.

Chandravir’s father, Laxman Singh, said the three had gone out running in the evening when the dust storm began. “They may have taken shelter near the gate of Maharaja Suraj Mal College and died after the pillars collapsed,” he said.

Chandravir, Tejvir Singh, 18, and Sanjay Saini, 18, were friends and worked out together to prepare for the physical test for recruitment to police and paramilitary forces.

Chandravir was recently selected in the Delhi Police and was to join duty on May 15, his father said. He was the eldest among three siblings.

Villagers said Laxman Singh is a small farmer with land holding of less than a hectare. “Chandravir was a science graduate. He wanted to start working to help ease the family’s financial problems. When he got selected for Delhi Police, the family was very happy,” said a cousin.

Tejvir is survived by an elder brother, Raunak, who is mentally challenged. His father, Ravindra, is a construction labourer. Tejvir had passed Class 12 and was preparing for recruitment into the defence forces, said police. Little information was available on the third friend, Sanjay Saini. The death of the three men has cast a pall of gloom over the village.

About 60km from Bharatpur, in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh’s Agra district, two brothers lost their four young children to the storm fury that lashed them.

Rajveer, his wife Maya, brother Prempal, and their six children had just finished dinner in the makeshift kitchen on the terrace of their house in Kukawar village when the cool breeze turned into a destructive storm within minutes.

Before they could move to the safer parts of the house, their makeshift kitchen — a tin shed propped up by a single brick wall and poles — came crashing down, killing Rajveer’s three children and his brother’s one-year-old daughter.

“There was heavy rain and thunderstorm and everyone in the village ran for cover. We came to know about the tragedy in Rajveer’s family only after the weather normalised. Then the rescue work began,” said a villager accompanying the bodies for post-mortem at the SN Hospital in Agra on Thursday.

Rajveer and Maya lost their three kids — Anki, 10, Bhola, 8, and Tanu, 5, in the roof collapse. Rajveer’s brother Prempal lost his one-year-old daughter Anant. His two sons — Kanha and Ajay — were injured.Rajveer and Maya and Prempal’s wife Urmila also suffered injuries and all of them were rushed to Agra for treatment. Villagers burst into tears when the bodies of the four children were brought out of the post-mortem house at the SN Hospital.

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