They entered ‘tank’…and never returned

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New Delhi, July 16 (IANS) Twenty-one-year-old Jaspal Singh walked down the corridor of a city police station sporting a mud-smeared t-shirt, blue shorts and black turban — the same clothes he was wearing hours back when he tried in vain to rescue his father and three others from an underground tank.

The four persons died while cleaning the tank.

According to the families of deceased, the four persons died after inhaling poisonous gaseous while cleaning a water harvesting tank, which was connected with waste material carrying pipes, including with toilets.

The deceased have been identified as Swarn Singh, 45, Deepu, 28, Anil, 32, and Billu, 28 — all residents of Mehrauli in south Delhi.

Outside their house in Punjabi Colony in Mehrauli, Jaspal’s twin brother Satpal Singh said that Jaspal along with Deepu, Anil and Billu left their house at around 9 a.m in a car to the under-construction building in Ghitorni to clean the tank.

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“First Anil climbed down the tank. After a while Billu followed. But as there was no response from both of them, Deepu also went in,” Jaspal said.

The underground tank was about nine-feet-deep and 12-feet-wide and had a three-feet-wide opening, according to the bereaved families.

Jaspal called out their names from the entrance of the tank, but he didn’t get an response. A worried Jaspal then called up his father Swarn Singh.

“Dad came and fastened a rope around his body and went down the tank,” he said.

As he reached the bottom of the tank, Swarn Singh unfastened the rope and tried to attach it to one of the other persons who was unconscious, in a bid to save him. But by that time, he also fell unconscious.

As his father was not responding to his calls, Jaspal jumped into the pit.

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“There was this much deep water in the tank,” Jaspal said touching his angle. “It was completely dark.”

Jaspal said that he could feel the intense gas and before he could realise anything he also fainted.

Later, it was fire services personnel who rescued Jaspal from the tank.

On Saturday evening, as he went back into the room of an officer at the police station, he had only one thing to say: “We need action against the accused.”

Outside one of the buildings of Safdarjung Hospital, Satnam Singh, 60, was waiting for a call on Saturday evening. On hearing his name, he went inside to identify his son and came out of the building — mortuary of the hospital.

Satnam said that his son Billu didn’t even have breakfast on Saturday morning as he was rushing out for work.

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“The owner never told us that it was a sewage tank,” the hexagenerian said. “All families will together file the case.”

Deepu’s brother said that the landlord had cheated his brother by hiding the information about actual nature of the tank.

Anil was the eldest of his six siblings and stayed in a slum in south Delhi.

On Saturday night, Anil’s sister Sunita, 26, was waiting at the police station with a white envelope in her hands.

Taking a passport size photo out of the envelope, Sunita requested: “Sir, please help us get justice. Nothing else.”

She said they had to go through a lot of trouble to find Anil’s body at the AIIMS trauma centre. “No one helped us — police or doctors. No one is talking to us,” she complained.



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