Even as the injured workers lay unconscious, two of them in ICU, workers of the AAP and BJP got into a scuffle inside Bhagwan Mahavir Hospital when PWD Minister Satyendar Jain and Leader of Opposition Vijender Gupta came to visit around the same time.
“There was a scuffle in front of the ICU, with people pushing each other and shouting. They also raised slogans outside the hospital,” said a staffer at the hospital.
When contacted, Gupta claimed he was prevented by authorities from entering the hospital. “I saw the minister sitting inside the medical superintendent’s office. For some reason, they did not want me there, knowing well that I will expose the hollowness of their claims regarding mechanisation of sewer cleaning,” he alleged.
Under a Delhi government scheme to eliminate manual scavenging, 200 jet sewer suction machines have been procured. In October, the government had announced that 100 more machines were being inducted.
Jain, who ordered an inquiry into the incident, could not be contacted.
Dr Charan Lal, Chief Medical Officer at the hospital, said the men were brought in between noon and 1 pm. “One of the victims, Ashok (35), was brought dead. The others were in a drowsy condition. It’s possible that they might have inhaled toxic gases inside the sewer. Medical reports will give more clarity,” he said.