Byculla museum death: BMC orders probe, cops to wait for it before action

Updated: May 11, 2019, 07:57 IST | Arita Sarkar

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Byculla museum death: BMC orders probe, cops to wait for it before action
Dr Arnawaz Havewala passed away on Thursday, May 9

A day after Dr Arnawaz Havewala succumbed to her injuries sustained in an accident at the Bhau Daji Lad Museum last month, civic chief Ajoy Mehta ordered an inquiry into the incident on Friday. The Byculla police, too, have registered an FIR in the case and are awaiting the BMC's inquiry report, promising strict action against those found guilty.

Corporators, along with Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar, in separate letters to Mehta, had demanded inquiry and action against INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage), the agency that maintains the museum.

The civic chief has instructed deputy municipal commissioner Sunil Dhamne to conduct an inquiry into the incident. "I have asked for a report on the incident in the museum and action will be taken accordingly," said Mehta. Civic officials said that the inquiry is expected to take about a week and will focus on fixing responsibility for the incident which led to the death of Dr Havewala.

The Bhau Daji Lad Museum, at Byculla zoo, is currently being taken care of by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage
The Bhau Daji Lad Museum, at Byculla zoo, is currently being taken care of by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage

Mahadeshwar wrote a letter to the BMC commissioner on Friday in which he pointed out that the mayor was not informed of the incident despite being the chairman of the trust at Bhau Daji Lad (BDL) museum. "The museum director and staff should have immediately informed me about the accident but they didn't. This is a serious issue and a detailed inquiry needs to be conducted. Strict action needs to be taken against those found guilty," he said. He pointed out that since the accident turned out to be a medico-legal case, the patients should have been taken to a government hospital instead of a private one.

Apart from the Mayor, demands for an inquiry were also made by the leader of opposition and Congress corporator Ravi Raja and Samajwadi Party leader Raees Shaikh to the civic chief on Friday. Raja has demanded that the agreement between the BMC and INTACH, which is currently the museum's custodian, be terminated immediately. "The management is running the show. So they can't simply blame the maintenance contractor (Expert Equipment) for the incident. Even in the CSMT bridge collapse, the police have arrested the chief engineer since he was supposed to monitor the work. In this case, the safety of the visitors is their responsibility," he said. If the vendor had delayed servicing, the museum staff should have shut it down until servicing was completed, he added.

Shaikh said that Tasneem Mehta, managing trustee and honorary director of Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum and vice chairman of INTACH, has been misusing the museum. "There are major lapses that have taken place and there should be criminal proceedings against her for negligence," he said. The BMC has long been trying to take over reigns of the museum from Mehta and in May 2018, additional municipal commissioner Idzes Kundan had written to INTACH that their agreement would be valid till September 2019.

The incident

The mishap took place on April 28 when 63-year-old Dr Havewala was visiting the Bhau Daji Lad Museum with her 24-year-old daughter Hera. The museum staff recalled that the two had entered the elevator on the first floor to come to the ground floor when the lift got stuck and then collapsed. Both Dr Havewala and her daughter lost their balance and fell on the floor of the lift.

Since Dr Havewala used to practice at Masina Hospital, the museum staff said that she wanted the ambulance to take them there. She suffered a severe pelvic fracture and after being hospitalised for 10 days, passed away owing to a cardiac arrest on Thursday morning. Hera, who has her leg fractured, is still admitted at the Masina Hospital. Museum officials said that the lift is now closed to the public until funds for a new lift are arranged.

Sept '19
Month till when INTACH's agreement would be valid

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