“I was walking to the church when the mishap took place. I noticed the slab supporting the Metro staircase trembling. At that moment, I didn’t understand the gravity of the situation. But, then the entire structure collapsed, and I ran to save my life. A piece of concrete fell on my leg.”
This is what Sahar resident Rashmi More told MiD DAY after an under-construction staircase on the Rs 2,356-cr Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar metro rail project came crashing down on September 4, killing one person and injuring 16 others. Most of the casualties were labourers wearing minimum safety harness while working on the Andheri airport road station. More had also claimed that on her way to the hospital, she noticed six of her bangles had gone missing.
“I have filed a case with Sahar police,” she had said (‘Injured woman robbed of gold bangles worth Rs 2 lakh’, September 6, MiD DAY). Days later More alleged that Marol’s Seven Hills Hospital, where she was receiving treatment, was not attending to her injuries and was trying to get her discharged under pressure from metro authorities (‘Metro accident victim accuses hospital of neglect’, September 10, MiD DAY).
Now, the tables have turned. Hindustan Construction Company (HCC), the sub-contractor for development of the metro stretch where the disaster took place, has filed a complaint with Sahar police station against Rashmi More. While HCC had borne the cost for the treatment of those hurt, at the same time — sources say — an informal inquiry was being made to ascertain whether or not the claims made by More of sustaining injuries due to the incident were true. On September 17, HCC wrote a letter to the police (copy with MiD DAY) asking for detailed inquiries into More’s version. “We have filed a complaint with Sahar police station,” said a spokesperson for HCC without elaborating further.
“The incident occurred at 3.55 pm at airport road station site of VAG metro rail. No person other than our company workers engaged in construction activities had access to the location. Rashmi More got admitted around 8.40 pm at Seven Hills Hospital, claiming she had sustained injuries due to the incident,” the letter says.
The letter adds that if she were injured in the tragedy, More would have been taken to a nearby hospital immediately, and that she got admission at Seven Hills Hospital five hours later to make a false claim against metro. “It appears that her injury has no connection with the episode,” said an HCC official.
On September 18, HCC also submitted a letter with Seven Hills Hospital, along with a copy of the police complaint. The letter mentioned that pending further police investigation, ‘on humanitarian grounds we undertake to clear the payment of Rs 62,098 (for More’s treatment)’.
The victim now seems to be dithering on her statement regarding the missing gold bangles. Speaking to MiD DAY, she said, “I was at the spot at the time and suffered soft-tissue injury on my ankle joint. I was attempting to cross the road when the mishap occurred. I immediately rushed home with pain in my leg. My neighbour assisted me to Seven Hills Hospital and I got admitted to the ICU after a medical examination of the injury. There is no need for me to lie about this.”
However, she claims to have no knowledge about the complaint filed against her by HCC. “No officials from Sahar police station have approached me so far regarding this,” added More.
Senior inspector, Jaiprakash Giram, Sahar police station, said, “We have received an official complaint letter from HCC authorities against Rashmi More on September 17. We are currently investigating the matter and have a copy of the statement provided by Rashmi More on the day of the mishap.”