Two men died after they inhaled poisonous fumes while cleaning a septic tank inside a banquet hall in East Delhi’s Patparganj industrial area. Police have detained three men, including the owner of the establishment, and registered a case in connection with the deaths.
The incident took place around 10 pm Thursday when two waiters at the hall, Lokesh Kumar (35) and Prem Chand (40), were cleaning the tank.
Deepak Yadav, DCP (East), said they received a call around 10.23 pm from Pearl Grand Emperor banquet hall. “Fire services, DDMA, MCD Boat Club and local police went to the spot and took out the bodies from the tank. They were sent to Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital,” said the DCP.
On Friday, families of the men alleged they were “forced” to clean the tank at night as it wasn’t part of their job.
Radhe Shyam, Prem’s elder brother, who works as a security guard, alleged, “I was on my duty and didn’t know anything about this. On Friday morning, our neighbours told us that Prem’s body was at the mortuary. He left home around 7 pm last night but we thought it was for a marriage function. He worked as a waiter or helper; he’s never cleaned a tank. We went to the hall and found he died because they didn’t give him any safety equipment. His employers told him they won’t give their daily wages unless they clean the tank. This is inhuman.”
Prem is survived by his wife and two children, aged 9 and 16, who live in Trilokpuri. Prem’s wife Hema works as a domestic help.The families Friday protested outside the mortuary alongside Bhim Army members and sanitation workers.
Dinesh, a sanitation worker, claimed, “The bodies were fished out around 2 am. Their tank was jammed for days and two workers there had already refused to clean it. The owner and managers then forced Lokesh and Prem to step inside. They were not provided with belts, bucket or a rope.”
Lokesh’s family said he was the breadwinner and leaves behind his wife and two children aged 12 and 15, who also live in Trilokpuri. His cousin Amit Kumar said, “Police called us around midnight and informed us about the incident. We knew his employers were harassing him over wages but how can they send someone inexperienced to clean the tank? They should be punished. He has been working odd jobs at restaurants and hotels for the last two decades. We want help for his wife and children.”
A senior police officer said banquet hall owner Jimmy Arora, general manager Amir Khan and housekeeping in-charge Rahul have been detained and are being questioned.