Aslam (27) returned from a visit to a friend’s house on Tuesday evening to find that the building he had moved into a day ago had turned to rubble, trapping his four roommates — one of them his cousin — under it. On Thursday, all of them were declared dead.
The five men had been brought to Shahberi by an agent to do plaster work at another building. They were put up by the agent in a room on the ground floor of the building that eventually collapsed.
According to Aslam, he and his cousin Mujahid (18) had arrived from their village in Bihar’s Purnia district just the day before the incident.
Aslam, Mujahid and three other workers — Shamshad, Naushad and Mobin — were sharing the room.
On the eve of the incident, Aslam left around 7 pm to borrow a fan from his friend in Bhangel village. “I had called Mujahid at 8.15 pm and he said he was washing clothes. As I walked back, I could hear people around me saying that a building had collapsed in the locality… When I reached, I found the building was gone,” he said.
“My head began spinning. I immediately called up my relatives and told them that Mujahid is likely trapped under the rubble. I didn’t think about approaching police; I waited for him to be rescued,” he said.
It was only on Thursday that he approached police personnel to tell them that Mujahid had still not been found. With information floating around that all of the nine bodies had been identified, he believed his cousin was still buried under the debris.
As rescue workers attempted to look for Mujahid in the rubble, it came to light that only eight people had been identified owing to a misunderstanding over names. Aslam went to the mortuary and identified the ninth body as Mujahid’s.
He now has to carry Mujahid’s body back to Purnia – from where they travelled to and from NCR together, alternating between their lives as farmers in the village and construction workers in the capital.