Mumbai: Labourer saw 7 men plunge 8 floors as he held on to parapet

Mohammad Shamim (30) narrates how he hung on to dear life even as his fellow workers fell off an under-construction building in Borivli; with everyone’s attention focussed on those who fell, he was left hanging for 15 minutes before help finally arrived; while 1 died, 2 are in ICU and 4 have suffered multiple fractures

The morning of February 16, 2016, will be etched on the mind of Mohammad Shamim forever, as he watched seven of his colleagues crash to the ground from seventh floor of an under-construction building at Chougule Nagar in Borivli (East). Shamim too had a brush with death. While he managed to cling on to the parapet of the eighth floor, after the bamboo scaffolding the eight men were standing on gave way, the remaining seven were not as lucky as him.

I felt the bamboo under my feet slipping. I just threw whatever was in my hand and jumped towards the parapet said Mohammad Shamim
I felt the bamboo under my feet slipping. I just threw whatever was in my hand and jumped towards the parapet said Mohammad Shamim

One of the victims succumbed to his injuries while being rushed to Shatabdi hospital.

Recollecting his ordeal, Shamim said, “I feel fortunate for not being among those lying on the ground in a pool of blood. They were my friends.”

Mohammad Shamim fell from the eighth floor of the under-construction building in Borivli (East). Pic/Swarali Purohit
Mohammad Shamim fell from the eighth floor of the under-construction building in Borivli (East). Pic/Swarali Purohit

A labourer from Bihar, Shamim had come to Mumbai just three months ago after one of his friends told him about an employment opportunity at the construction site.

“None of us were wearing safety harness. We have been working like this since the construction began. We all were working on the part between the seventh and the eighth floor and stood on the scaffold,” said Shamim, adding, “Suddenly, I felt the bamboo under my feet slipping down. I realised that it was coming off. I threw away whatever I had in my hands and lunged for the parapet above me. Fortunately, I managed to hold on to the parapet of the eighth floor. And before I could heave a sigh of relief, the entire scaffold crashed beneath me. All my seven friends vanished right before my eyes. When I looked down, all I could hear was their screams for help. Two of them were soaked in their own blood.”

However, Shamim’s initial thought of being lucky faded after he realised that those attending to the injured on the ground had failed to spot a man hanging for his dear life.

“Despite people rushing to my friends’ aid, none saw me. I screamed for at least 10-15 minutes, but to no avail. What made matters worse was the debris of the scaffold had bruised my back, leaving it sore. But I held on and told myself that I didn’t want to die and be one of them,” Shamim said.

Another labourer working on the third floor finally spotted Shamim and rushed to his aid. Motibur Rehman said others were so busy in rushing the injured to the hospital that they did failed to spot Shamim. “I heard his screams for help and pulled him to safety with the help of two other workers. We used bamboos to pull him up. Thankfully, he clung to the parapet despite a sore back,” Rehman added.

Doc speak
While fire officials and police rushed to the spot upon receiving information, the injured were already taken to Shatabdi for treatment.

Speaking to mid-day, a doctor said, “We performed X-rays and MRI scans to see the extent of injuries. While one of them died on his way to the hospital, two are in ICU and the four, who sustained multiple fractures, are being treated in the orthopaedic ward. One of them was brought in with minor injuries.”

Cop speak
Senior Inspector Prakash Jadhav from Dahisar police station said, “An FIR has been registered against Chougule builders under Section 304A (causing death by negligence). The bamboos and the ropes used to tie them were very old. The incident took place because the weak structure collapsed under the workers’ weight. Secondly, none of the workers were wearing safety harness. The harness would have broken their fall.

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