At the site of the incident in Ludhiana. (Express photo by Gurmeet Singh)
Three labourers were electrocuted to death after coming in contact with high voltage wires passing above while working at an under-construction building site in New Punjabi Bagh colony on Tibba Road of Ludhiana Sunday.
Police identified the deceased as Satranjan Rai, Rakesh Kumar and Mukesh Kumar- all in their thirties and hailing from Bihar. Police said initial investigations indicated that they were forced to work under high voltage wires by their employer Raju, locally known as Raju ‘Lemon Wala’, who was getting his house constructed.
Over the past few days, labourers had been refusing to plaster the wall from where the high voltage wires passed but on Sunday they were allegedly ‘forced’ by Raju to start the work. He also allegedly made a false claim to the labourers, telling that upon his request, Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) had disconnected power supply. He also allegedly threatened them that he would not clear their pending dues unless the work was completed.
Locals told police that there was a blast when one the labourers, Rakesh Kumar came in touch with the wires. He was charred to death. Soon, Satranjan and Mukesh also came in contact with wires. People starting throwing sand to douse the flames and the police were informed. Three bodies were seen hanging on the makeshift bamboo stand that they had climbed for plastering work on the first floor of the building.
Locals alleged that no help arrived for nearly three hours. It was after the police arrived that PSPCL and fire department were informed. Power supply was disconnected in the area and bodies were removed.
Police and other officials also faced a protest from the people for the ‘delay’. It was only after police assured them of action against the house owner that the protest ended.
Additional DCP-4 Surendra Lamba said Raju had hired five labourers for renovation of his house around two months ago. Since high voltage wires were passing from first floor, laborers had refused to work there. But he kept forcing them and on Sunday they agreed to complete work.
“The other labourers said they were being forced to work there despite Raju knowing well that there is high voltage current running in those wires. As per PSPCL officials, they have already told locals to keep their buildings at a certain distance from these wires. But we are probing role of PSPCL officials also,” he said.
Police has filed an FIR against house owner Raju Lemon under section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of IPC at Tibba police station. ADCP said Raju was absconding.