Roop Singh (24), a migrant labourer from Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao district, jumped off the top floor of the factory as it caught fire. He escaped with a broken leg — his three family members were not so lucky.
Speaking to The Sunday Express over the phone, he said, “I could smell it first… before I knew it, I was trapped. I knew that if I had to escape, I would have to jump.” The 24-year-old had come to Delhi to earn a living, and stayed at a slum cluster full of many others like him. “I held on to the pipes along the wall and the scaffolding and ultimately jumped when it got too hot,” he said. An uncle, a cousin and another relative perished in the fire, Singh said, adding that he is yet to identify their bodies.
Bawana MLA Ram Chandra (53) told The Sunday Express that the factory was “operating illegally” for the past fortnight. “I have been speaking to survivors and police, and I have been able to ascertain that the factory was operating for the last 15 days. It appears it was operating without permission and necessary clearances in connivance with local police,” he alleged. “But an investigation is required and we will raise this issue against the police and the corporations.”
“There is a ban on firecrackers, and this factory mostly sold to those outside Delhi. Workers would come in around 9 am. Most of them are poor migrants who come here to escape poverty. It was run by two persons, whose names I will give to police,” he said.
A Delhi Fire Services official said there is a rubber factory on the second storey above the firecracker factory. The official said the DFS received a call around 6.20 pm, and 10 fire tenders were rushed to the spot.