Three families lose breadwinners in Delhi factory fire

By Rohan Agarwal

New Delhi, July 13 (IANS) Three families lost their breadwinners as three labourers were killed in a massive fire that broke out in a three-storey building in Jhilmil Industrial Area in east Delhi on Saturday.

The victims who died due to suffocation and burn injuries, included two women and a youth. They were identified as Sangeeta (46), Manju (50) and Shoaib (19).

The building was used as a packing factory for brass taps.

Sangeeta had planned to take leave on the ill-fated day but later decided to go, fearing deduction of her salary.

She decided to go to the factory even when she was feeling ill and her relatives suggested she rest for a day. However the factory owner had a policy that if someone takes leaves on Saturday then he or she would have to face deduction of two days' salary.

"My mother was feeling unwell and wanted to take leave on Saturday but fearing the policy which discourages leaves on Saturday she decided to go on the ill-fated day," Sunny, Sangeeta's son told IANS.

Sunny claimed that she was the main breadwinner of the family as his father was an alcoholic and the entire family survived on the earnings of his mother. To help the family, Sangeeta would even walk for over seven kilometers which saved her Rs 40 rupees a day on one trip.

Sangeeta's children have been living in Bihar's Nalanda, their native place but her elder son Sunny who had recently passed class 10th examination was in the capital for over a month to explore the city.

"My father though works in a nickel factory but he does not contribute to our family earnings. It was only my mother who paid for our education, food and shelter," said Sunny.

He added that the family was looking for a match for his sister Munni and the wedding was about to be fixed.

Both Sangeeta and Manju were the main earners for the family and were working for more than eight years in the factory where they used to pack the brass taps, which were given finishing touches in the factory which is owned by four brothers - Naeem, Wasim, Shanu and Adnan.

Manju who used to travel daily on a local train from Loni in Ghaziabad, was stuck on the second floor of the building with Sangeeta, as both of them died due to suffocation.

Manju was also the main earner in her family of seven and used to earn Rs 6,000 per month. She had also asked her elder son Manish to join her in the factory and was working with him since a month now.

"My brother called us to inform that the factory had caught fire, and he came out out of the establishment unhurt but my mother was trapped inside the building," Suraj, younger son of Manju said.

Manju's husband who works as a labourer in another factory in Loni, could not earn much and was also recently admitted to GTB hospital after a liver infection, and the family was since then facing a cash crunch.

On the third floor of the building, rescuers found the body of 19-year-old Shoaib who, according to his family used to write bills for the factory and had recently graduated from an open university.

Shoaib, who was hired through the brother-in-law of one of the owners of the factory, had been working there for about a year-and-a-half now and was the only son in a family of four.

"He used to earn Rs 10,000 per month and was satisfied with the job. I never went to the factory but he used to tell me that the work was good," said Wahid Ali, father of Shoaib, who is a tailor in Seelampur area.

According to Delhi Fire Service officials, the call reporting the incident was received at 9.25 a.m. and at least 30 tenders were "immediately" rushed to the spot.

"It was doused by 2.50 p.m. The factory manufactures brass taps and some rubber and plastic equipments. The building consists of a ground floor and three upper floors," the police told IANS.

A case under section 304 A (causing death by negligence) was registered aganist the factory owners by Delhi Police.

In January last year, 17 people died in a massive blaze at a firecracker storage unit in outer Delhi's Bawana industrial area.

(Rohan Agarwal can be contacted at [email protected])

--IANS

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