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Why were sweeper and guard cleaning sewer in Delhi’s Mundka, ask families

Relatives in shock as two men die inside a manhole after inhaling poisonous gases in west Delhi’s Mundka

September 11, 2022 01:45 am | Updated 10:59 am IST - New Delhi

Ashok worked as a security guard at a DDA residential area in Mundka. Photo: Special Arrangement

Ashok worked as a security guard at a DDA residential area in Mundka. Photo: Special Arrangement

A day after a sweeper and a security guard died while cleaning a sewer in west Delhi’s Mundka area, their families are in shock over why the two men were asked to do a job they were not trained for.

“Rohit was working as a sweeper at a DDA residential area in Bakkarwala. Who asked him to go inside a sewer to clean it,” asked Rakesh Kumar, brother of Rohit Chandiliya, 32, whose body was pulled out of the sewer, along with the body of Ashok Kumar, 30, on Friday afternoon. Both of them died after inhaling toxic gases inside the sewer they had entered to clear out a blockage, the police said.

“My brother earned ₹200 a day as a sweeper and was the sole breadwinner of his family of three, including his wife and two-year-old son,” said Mr. Kumar who works in a bank. He said Rohit had cut off ties with his family after they objected to his “love marriage”. He was struggling to sustain his family while working as a peon at a bank and decided to switch jobs for better wages, said Mr. Kumar.

Rohit was a sweeper at the DDA residential area in Mundka. Photo: Special Arrangement

Rohit was a sweeper at the DDA residential area in Mundka. Photo: Special Arrangement

The bodies of Rohit and Ashok had to be pulled out with the help of the fire brigade as the colony residents failed to pull them out manually.

Another family member of Rohit, Satish Kumar, said they were left with several unanswered questions. “If he was sent inside the sewer why was no security provided to him? Why did the residents have to come to their rescue and not the authorities,” Mr. Satish asked.

Ashok’s elder brother Ajay Kumar said he has been working as a security guard for the last 10 years. “Ashok was the sole breadwinner in a family of six. Nobody knows how the family members would survive now,” he said. Ashok used to travel from a village in Haryana, around 30 km from Mundka, to Bakkarwala everyday to earn a living, his brother said.

Failed rescue bid

According to a senior police officer, Rohit went inside the sewer first to clean the blockage and fell unconscious. To rescue him, Ashok, too, went inside and fainted after inhaling poisonous gases.

The area residents gathered at the spot but were unable to pull out the two men as they had gone deep inside, the police said. The ground around the manhole was then broken by the police and firemen to reach the duo. They were taken to Sanjay Gandhi Memorial hospital where the doctors declared them brought dead, said DCP (Outer) Sameer Sharma.

According to a senior police officer, the families of the deceased alleged that the two workers were asked to clean the sewer by a local pradhan, who denied giving any permission for the same.

“An investigation is under way. We cannot say if someone’s negligence led to the deaths till the investigation is over,” the officer said.

A post-mortem was conducted on Saturday and their bodies were handed over to their family members, the police said. A case under Section 304A (causing death by negligence) of the IPC has been registered.

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