Ludhiana fire tragedy: How factory owner’s ‘apprehension’ claimed four lives
Panic gripped the streets of Kalyan Nagar in Ludhiana at 4am when the residents heard the loud screams of the labourers trapped inside the hosiery factory on fire.
The factory owner and residents gathered outside the building but were reluctant to enter the building due to the flames.
One of the local residents, Jatinder, said, “Initially we thought it was the noise made by truckers who usually unload their goods in the area. But I did not take much time to realise those were the screams of the labourers pleading to save their lives.”
“The owner opened the shutter and along with some few locals started pulling out the material kept near the entrance. However, they could not enter the building. The screams stopped after around half-an-hour,” he added.
Firemen and police officials assumed that the labourers might have succeeded in escaping, but their belief was shunned after the workers’ bodies were found inside the building later.
Locked factories, an invitation to death
The fire incident on Wednesday has again brought to the fore the issue of locking the factories from outside during the night-shift hours. The co-workers and relatives of the deceased are calling it is an “open invitation to death”.
As per relatives of the deceased, the owner used to lock the shutter on the ground floor from outside, which as a result blocked the access to the top floor of the building.
Satish Kumar and Shailender, who also work in the same factory, claimed that the labourers led a miserable life as they were forced to defecate at a common place during work hours.
“Temporary arrangements were made at one of the floors as the workers were not allowed to move to the top floor, door to which was also locked by the owner during the night shifts,” they added.
“These workers would have survived had the owner, rather than being apprehensive about thefts, thought of value of the value of human lives,” said Manjeet, cousin of Satya Parkash.
Another local resident, Gurjeet, said, “The victims would have escaped if the access to the top floor was available.”
Firefighters lives at stake too
The lives of firefighters are also at stake as the MC has failed to the provide safety equipment to the firefighters so far. The firemen have to cover their faces with wet clothes before entering any building on fire. It is pertinent to mention that following the plastic factory tragedy last November, local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu had made an announcement that proper equipment will be provided to the fire-safety department.