Anaj Mandi blaze: Grief strikes home in Bihar, ‘Many youths skilled tailors, head to Delhi after Class X’

Santosh Singh
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A relative outside the mortuary at Maulana Azad Medical College, a day after the fire at Anaj Mandi building claimed 43 lives. (Express Photo: Praveen Khanna)

Mohammed Ulfat, a resident of Harpur village in Bihar’s Samastipur, had sent his fourth son Wazid (18) to Delhi to join his brother Sajid (26) for tailoring work last month. It was a garment factory owner from the same village, who had first employed Sajid, among other villagers, at his tailoring unit in the national capital.

The two brothers were among the 43 killed in the fire.

Ulfat, a daily wager who has two other sons working as a welder in Bengaluru and a tailor in Chennai, left with others for Delhi after hearing about the fire, which claimed the lives of nine people from their village.

Mohammed Noor, from Harpur village, said, "As tailoring has been our traditional profession, village youths go to Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru for work. Most youths take up tailoring jobs in factories in Delhi after passing class X. As the owner of one of the outlets that caught fire is from my village, it is easy for them to seek employment.”

According to Noor, a villager could earn between Rs 12,000 and Rs 20,000 per month working in the factories. Of the 29 victims from Bihar, 11 are from Samastipur. The rest are from Muzaffarpur, Madhubani, Darbhanga, Sitamarhi, Saharsa, Araria and Supaul.

Editorial | Put out the fire

Of the eight victims from Saharsa, seven are from Nariyar, adjoining the district town, and were employed by a man from the area who ran a tailoring unit in the Anaj Mandi building.

Sanjay Soni, a Saharsa resident, said: “Nariyar is famous as a village of tailors. As most people are landless, many youths even do not wait to pass class X boards before heading to Delhi.”

Meanwhile, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announced ex-gratia compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the families of victims, and sent labour commissioner Dharmendra Singh to Delhi. Bihar's labour resources minister Vijay Kumar Sinha said: “We will financially help families in bringing bodies to Bihar. We are also coordinating with the families of the injured for treatment.”

Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi blamed the lack of safety measures for the fire, while Bihar water resources minister Sanjay Kumar Jha said the Delhi government should be held accountable for the incident. Leader of Opposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav requested the Centre to identify those responsible for the incident.