A contractor at a construction site in Manesar has been arrested after two women he employed died when a mound of sand fell on them. The incident took place around 4 pm Tuesday at Bans Gaon in Manesar, when the 55-year-old woman and her 25-year-old daughter, who worked as daily wage labourers, were doing renovation work at the site.
“The contractor, Babloo, who hails from Bilhari village in Uttar Pradesh’s Mahoba district, was arrested Thursday. Investigation is underway to nab the owner of the building, Balwan Singh,” said Gurgaon Police PRO Subhash Boken.
Officials from the district’s labour department told The Indian Express that a separate probe will be conducted by them into the incident and action will be taken against anyone found to have been at fault. “Assistant Director Deepak Malik is investigating the incident and action will be taken depending on the findings. The next of kin of the victims are also entitled to Rs 2.5 lakh compensation, which will be handed over once it is established that these deaths occurred while constructing,” said Ashok Nain, Deputy Director, Industrial Safety and Health.
The victims, Ramkali, who hails from Bilbai village in UP’s Mahoba, and her daughter Anjali, were staying with Anjali’s husband, Asmir, who hails from Mahoba’s Churari village, and their one-year-old daughter.
“We came to Gurgaon close to two months ago and were helping dig a basement in the building, owned by Balwan Singh. On Wednesday, it was my wife and mother-in-law’s day off, but Babloo and Balwan Singh directed them both to go into the dug-out basement and break stones,” alleged Asmir.
“My wife protested and pointed out that the mud collected on the side, which had been dug out, could collapse any time, and they would get buried if it did. However, the contractor and owner did not listen and, instead, threatened to not give them the money they were owed for their work over the past one-and-a-half months if they did not do as they were asked,” he alleged.
Asmir alleged that within a few minutes of the women descending into the basement, the mound of mud slipped and fell on them.
“I started shouting for help and people rushed to assist me. Someone also alerted police and they arrived at the spot. We used a JCB machine as well as our hands to dig through the mud… but by the time we pulled them out, I could tell they were not breathing,” he said.
The two women were rushed to Rockland Hospital in Manesar, where doctors declared them dead on arrival. It was only on Wednesday, however, that Asmir submitted a complaint to police.
Explaining the delay, he said, “I was entirely alone here after they both died. I had my daughter to look after while also dealing with my own shock. I was not in a condition to make any decisions… I wanted to wait until our relatives arrived, so that I could speak to them and decide what to do, and they could also help me through the process.”
A case had been registered regarding the matter under IPC sections 288 (negligent conduct with respect to pulling down or repairing buildings) and 304A (death by negligence) at the IMT Manesar police station on Wednesday, against both the owner and contractor.
For Asmir, however, the future is unclear. “The fact that I have registered a case will not bring back my child’s mother. I am not sure how I will manage. We came to Gurgaon in the hope of better money and a better life. This was something I never imagined could happen. I don’t think I will return now or, if I do, I may have to leave my daughter behind at my village. This has changed everything,” he said.