Five people, including four children, died after the roof of a three-storey building, which also housed a coaching centre, collapsed in North East Delhi’s Bhajanpura Saturday afternoon. (Express Photo: Praveen Khanna)
In the bylanes of North East Delhi’s Bhajanpura, grief dug a pole and set up a white tent outside five homes as tiny bodies of four children, and their tutor, arrived Sunday afternoon. Over 20 people, mostly children between the ages of six and 16 years, were trapped under debris when an under-construction portion of a three-storey tuition centre, fell around 4.15 pm Saturday. Their post-mortems were conducted Sunday morning.
Inside the galis, the sound of wailing mothers pierced through the sky. Those who survived spoke about the friends they lost — Dishu (12), Farhan (6), Kirti (10) and Prakash (9).
Kirti’s mother Poonam Tyagi (35) said that on Saturday, her daughter left for tuition along with her elder brother Yash (16) and their cousins Naina (11) and Dev (14), as usual. “Kirti was on the floor whose roof collapsed; the other three were downstairs so they survived. I got a call from my husband around 4.30 pm that ‘laali dab gayi hai’. She wanted to be a teacher... She was so excited about going to school today, as she had a dance performance as part of the Republic Day celebrations,” said Poonam, as her niece Naina consoled her.
Naina said she was studying geography when the portion above collapsed and the children rushed out: “My brother went upstairs to find Kirti but there was only debris.”
Two days ago, 12-year-old Dishu Kushwaha lost his paternal grandmother, and two days later, he died in the collapse. “He was very sad about his grandmother’s death and we sent him to tuition this early after her death to keep him occupied. I had no idea there was expansion work happening upstairs... He had been going there for five years,” said his mother Sangeeta (33).
Inside nine-year-old Prakash’s house, his siblings - Uma (7) and Nitin (12) - sat shocked and bandaged. The two were seated near Prakash when bricks from the collapsing wall fell on him, recalled Uma, who has an upper thigh injury. Nitin has a fractured shoulder, minor injuries on his chest, legs and head, and a blood clot in his left eye.
“When the bricks fell on me, I couldn’t move and managed to stick my hand out and waved it so people know I am there. When they took me out, I saw my friend’s Farhan’s hand and my brother Nitin’s cap and jacket. I keep seeing bricks falling on my brother Prakash... Do you know he is dead?” asked Uma. Nitin said he was unconscious and only found out in the hospital that his brother had died. Their mother is a housewife and their father is a labourer at a factory.
Inside a one-room house nearby sat eight-year-old Harsh, who escaped from the collapse unhurt, with his 13-year-old brother Ajay, who had attended a class at the centre the same morning. Harsh said, “I saw bricks falling and immediately ran out. I was covered in dust and police took me to the hospital thinking I might be injured too. Sab bache mar gaye, main vaapis nahi jaunga. I haven’t found my schoolbag, books or diary. Our teacher Umesh sir also tried to save children but then he fell too and died... I saw that.”
Umesh is survived by his wife, Ruchi, who also teaches at the centre, and their two children aged three and six years. “My granddaughter Shivani, who studies in class XI, had a Math test on Saturday afternoon but didn’t go as she was not ready for the test... I can’t imagine what would have happened if she had gone,” said her grandmother, as she stood outside the centre.