Maker Towers fire: Domestic helps rally around victims

Oct 19, 2016, 19:23 IST | Pallavi Smart

Even as the police struggled to identify the two deceased in the fire at Maker Towers yesterday, the community members gathered at the hospital to claim the victims

The charred remains of the home. Pic/PTI
The charred remains of the home. Pic/PTI

As the news about the blaze at the upscale Maker Towers in Cuffe Parade and the death of two domestic help — Ajay Ramsaroj Paswan (30) and Kundan Kumar Umashankar Singh (22) — spread, in a moment of deep solidarity, helpers from across the city who hail from UP’s Basti district collected at the St George Hospital, where the post-mortem was being conducted.

Ramu Paswan, Ajay’s brother-in-law. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Ramu Paswan, Ajay’s brother-in-law. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Paswan hailed from the Nedula district of the same district. mid-day had, in its afternoon edition, reported that there was nobody from their employer, CMD of Bajaj Electricals, Shekhar Bajaj’s family to claim the victims’ bodies.

Identification delay
Early on Tuesday morning, a fire broke out in the elite south Bombay residential building, gutting two floors of Bajaj’s duplex on the 20th and 21st floor; 11 members were rescued but Paswan and Singh perished due to suffocation. After they were brought to St. George Hospital in CST, their bodies remained unattended in the hospital lobby till late as police waited for their identification.

Also read: Maker Towers skipped fire safety audits for two years

Finally, Paswan was identified after his brother-in-law, Ramu Paswan, also a domestic help in Colaba, reached the hospital to claim him. “We got to know about the incident through the news, after which Ajay’s brother Vinod Kumar, who works here but is currently back in our hometown, called Ajay’s employers who told him that he had been taken to the hospital. Since I work nearby, I immediately rushed there.”

“Everybody at home is still trying to come to terms with it. His wife has been inconsolable and is crying holding on to their year-and-a-half-old son,” said Ramu. Ajay’s second brother-in-law, Shivdeep Paswan, along with 10 other domestic helpers from across the city was also at the hospital. While Ajay had only worked at the Bajaj’s for over a year, he had been living in Mumbai for almost eight years now.

Other still waits
However, unfortunately, no one has yet turned up to claim Singh’s body. Even as those collected outside waited for an update on Ajay’s post-mortem, they were shocked that his family members had not yet been informed. “We do not know of Singh’s hometown, but when we are employed, we need to present all our documents of identification and verification. It shouldn’t take long for the employers to communicate about the incident to the family members,” said Kumar.

Post-mortem reports
Though no cause of death is mentioned in the reports, it suggests that suffocation was the reason. It surmises that since all the organs were inflated, it might be due to congestion. The organs have now been sent to the Directorate Of Forensic Science Laboratories at Kalina for viscera analysis. “Until the Kalina lab gets back to us, we won’t be able to declare the actual cause of death,” said Dr Jagdish B Bhawani, Medical superintendent of the hospital.

Last rites
Those collected outside the hospital are planning to take Ajay’s body to Nedula for the final rites. They also say that they have assurance from the Bajaj family that it will arrange for the body to be sent till Lucknow in a flight.

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