Two workers cleaning window panes at a high-rise in Delhi’s Jhandewalan locality died on Monday after the electronic outdoor lift they were standing on snapped and plummeted from the 10th floor, The Indian Express reported. The incident occurred at 3 pm at Videocon Tower.
The workers were identified as 23-year-old Raju Kumar and 22-year-old Ishtar Khan, who lived in a slum in Vasant Kunj in South Delhi.
“Prima facie, it appears they did not have any safety equipment. There were no helmets or safety belts at the spot,” an unidentified police officer told The Indian Express. He added that “it was a steel panel outdoor automated lift.”
Deputy Commissioner of Police Mandeep Singh Randhawa said the lift collapsed because of a mechanical failure. “The men were rushed to Lady Hardinge Medical College, where they were declared dead on arrival,” Randhawa added. He also said no one has been arrested yet.
A case has been registered under Indian Penal Code sections 304A (causing death by negligence) and 287 (negligent conduct with respect to machinery) against MS Enterprise, the company that was handling the building’s cleaning work.
“The men were wearing ID cards of the cleaning company and were employed there,” said an unidentified police officer. “So far, we have found out that MS Enterprises has been engaged for this cleaning job by Videocon Tower for a few years now. They send workers to clean window panes at regular intervals.”
Ishtar Khan’s brother said he had been doing the job for over four years, and was being paid Rs 13,000 a month. “He lived on rent in a small house with his wife and their one-year-old daughter,” said Samad Khan. “How can they let him use a faulty machine? Even if they had safety gear, would they have survived the fall?”
Mohammad Shakir, Khan’s brother-in-law, is also an employee of the same cleaning company, and was present at the spot when the incident occurred. “We got a call from him [Shakir] at 3 pm about the incident,” said Samad Khan. “While my brother never spoke about work, Shakir often said the company did not provide any safety belts and that it was scary to be so high up on buildings to clean them. Just because we are poor labourers, are our lives not worth anything?”
Samad, who works as a security guard in Faridabad in Haryana, pointed out that his brother was sole breadwinner of his family. “His wife does not work and Ishtar also helped out our unemployed father,” he added.
The labourers’ bodies will be handed over to their families after the autopsy on Tuesday.