2 waiters die cleaning septic tank: Banquet hall directors among 4 held under SC/ST Act

Police identified the four arrested men as directors Jimmy Arora and Girish Mahendru, housekeeping in-charge Rahul and general manager Amir Khan.

Two days after two men died while cleaning a septic tank inside a banquet hall, police have arrested four people, including two directors of the establishment, and also booked them under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The incident took place around 10 pm Thursday at Patparganj’s Pearl Grand Opera hall where two waiters, Lokesh Kumar (35) and Prem Chand (40), were told to clean the tank.

Police identified the four arrested men as directors Jimmy Arora and Girish Mahendru, housekeeping in-charge Rahul and general manager Amir Khan.

The victims had gone inside the tank without safety gear, and inhaled toxic fumes, police said.
A senior officer said, “During enquiry, we found that the tank was blocked for days and local sanitation workers had refused to clean it due to no machine or equipment being provided. However, Kumar and Chand were forced to go in. Their bodies were found in the tank filled with mud and water.”

Initially, a case was registered against unknown persons under sections of death by negligence and Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act.

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On Friday, at Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital’s mortuary, families of the victims protested alongside Bhim Army members and sanitation workers.

Deepak Yadav, DCP (East), said the accused called the two men around 7.30 pm to clean the tank. By 10 pm, both had died.
“We picked up the men on Friday and arrested them after questioning. They have also been booked under sections of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act,” said DCP Yadav.

Police said the main allegations against the accused is that they didn’t provide safety gear to the men and also “forced” them to do something that wasn’t part of their job. A senior officer said, “We spoke to witnesses and other staffers. They confirmed that the men were not provided with any equipment or safety gear.”

A PCR call was made by staffers at 10.23 pm and teams of fire services, DDMA and MCD Boat Club were deployed. Both bodies were taken out around midnight.

Radhe Shyam, Prem’s elder brother, who works as a security guard, alleged, “We went to the spot and found that the manager and the owner forced my brother to clean the tank for a marriage function on Friday. My brother has never done this before. He works odd jobs at halls and restaurants.”

Chand and Kumar are survived by their wives and two young children each. On Friday night, the families approached police with their caste certificate and asked them to take action accordingly. Said an officer: “The families told us the men were forced to clean the tank as their employers had not paid their wages. We are looking into these allegations. This hasn’t been confirmed so far.”

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