A 22-year-old wrestler, who had played at national level and had won many medals at the state level, was electrocuted when he allegedly tried to get water pumped out from the waterlogged office of the Jharkhand State Wrestling Association (JSWA), operating out of a dilapidated pavilion of Jaipal Singh Stadium in Ranchi on Tuesday.
The building where the incident occurred may have been declared “condemned or dangerous”. Also, the power connection to the building was illegal.
The Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) has set up a probe to ascertain the facts. The State Sports Department too has launched its own probe into the incident. The police said that the wrestler died due to electrocution and registered a case of unnatural death.
The stadium is being re-done to give way to a multi-purpose cultural centre hub, to be called Rabindra Bhawan, the foundation stone for which was laid by former President Pranab Mukherjee on April 2. The mega complex, to be constructed at a cost of over Rs 150 crores, was supposed to have conference halls, seminar rooms and place for exhibitions.
According to the police, Vishal Kumar Verma, son of Basant Ram Verma, a resident of Bhutaha Mohalla (Chaiti Tola), had gone to the building in Jaipal Stadium, where the JSWA office was located, to pump out the water that had entered the office in the wake of heavy downpour in the capital over the last fortnight. Some other wrestlers also used live in that building on the first floor.
“In the process, Vishal got electrocuted around 1 p.m. He was rushed to Sadar Hospital by his fellow wrestlers, who lived on the first floor of the building. Verma was declared brought dead. The hospital authorities informed us. We have registered a case of unnatural death. Following a detailed post-mortem report, we will proceed further. Investigations so far has revealed that the electricity connection to the office was illegal,” said officer-in-charge (Kotwali) Shyam Nandan Mandal.
The honorary secretary of JSWA, Bhola Nath Singh, said that Vishal used to live nearby and would often be entrusted with the keys to the office.
“He was well disciplined and we often would give him the keys, as he stayed close by. I had not gone to the office for the last 45 days because, during the rainy season, the condition had become very bad. The entire field has been dug up for the new project (Rabindra Bhavan) and there is no provision for drainage. As a result, the entire office was flooded. Vishal had met me on Tuesday morning. He was at home when he got a call from somebody and then left. I do not know what exactly led to the incident. We have contributed Rs 1 lakh to the family and will continue to help them,” said Singh, holding the post since 2000.
Singh also claimed that the space was provided to the JSWA in 1998 by the then District Sports Officer. “There were other offices too. Then, in 2007, we were asked to shift to Birsa Munda Stadium, as it had bigger space. In the mean time, we were given some grant by the government to open an office. We opened it in Jaipal Singh stadium, as we were already using that space,” he said, adding that he was not aware of any notice regarding power connection.
Singh added that Vishal had got the fourth position in the last national level event, besides winning gold many times at the state level. “He was good at Greco-Roman and Freestyle both. I had suggested him to fill up a form for job in Central Coalfields Limited as a helper on the basis of his performance. However, he was yet to do it,” he said.
Vishal was the youngest among six siblings, while his father worked at a clothes shop. The family has demanded compensation from the government.
Director (Sports) Ranendra Kumar said: “A team has been constituted to probe the circumstances leading to the incident. We will be giving his family compensation, as per the existing policy. Nothing written has come on record to show that the office was allotted to JSWA. The facts are being ascertained.”
Executive Engineer (New Capital Division) of Jharkhand Bijli Vitran Nigam Limited, Ravi Shanker, said: “The power connection to the building had been disconnected more than two years ago. We were also given to understand that the building had been declared dangerous. We had given temporary connection to contractors there for carrying out their renovation work regarding Rabindra Bhavan. A small office of Municipal Corporation there too has a connection. But the building, where the incident occurred has no connection.”
RMC spokesperson Naresh Sinha said: “The complex was handed over to the RMC from Ranchi Regional Development Authority (RRDA) about two years ago so that we can carry out the renovation. We were given to understand that the pavilion building had been declared dangerous or condemned. However, we have constituted a team to inquire into it and submit report within seven days. This will ascertain the status of that building.”