Meena Menon and Rahi Gaikwad

MUMBAI: Relatives of the two young research scientists who died in the fire at the chemical laboratory of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) on Tuesday have questioned the lack of transparency on the incident.

They had to wait for a long time outside the morgue at the JJ Hospital in central Mumbai. It was only around 8 p.m. on Wednesday, that the bodies were handed over.

Earlier the police at the J.J. Marg station said the bodies were badly charred and could not be easily identified. They were waiting for instructions from the Trombay police (in whose jurisdiction the incident took place). The statement of the parents has been recorded. At the morgue too till late evening there was confusion.

Munna Singh, a relative of Umang Singh, one of the victims, told The Hindu that there was no authoritative information from BARC on the deaths. He also complained about the delay in handing over the bodies. “Yesterday [on Tuesday] someone called Mukherjee called up Umang’s parents, two hours after the incident and told them about the deaths,” he said.

Twenty-five-year-old Umang was the only son and his father had retired as a teacher. He has two sisters, one of whom is married. Umang’s stipend at BARC where he was a research scientist supported the family who stay in the suburbs. The family of Partha Bag had come from Kolkata to reclaim his body.

Minor fire

PTI reports from Mumbai:

Umang Singh escaped with a minor injury on his hand when a small fire broke out in the laboratory last week, his close friend Jairam Gholave said on Wednesday. “Last Friday, there was a small fire in the same laboratory where he died,” Mr. Gholave said as he waited to receive his friend’s body at the J.J. Hospital’s coroner’s court.

Mr. Gholave, doing his Ph.D in Chemistry from the University of Mumbai, said he scolded his friend for risking his life by putting out the fire with his hands instead of complaining to the authorities. “Umang said since it was not a major blaze, he did not want to make it an issue.”

His father retired from service a few years ago and Umang Singh was the family’s sole bread winner. He was getting a monthly stipend of Rs 14,000, Mr. Gholave said.

Distraught families of Umang Singh and his junior Partha Bag were present at the J.J. Hospital to collect the bodies after the post-mortem.