Officials at the site of the accident in Vadodara. (File photo)
Gulabsinh Rathod (62), a resident of Padra, did not return home from work since Friday and was at the site managing the operations at Aims Industries Pvt Ltd, where a blast took place Saturday morning.
However, it was not the first time in his 30-year career with Aims that he was working for two days at a stretch. “He generally filled in for others and often worked double shifts or days in a stretch. He was one of the senior most employees there and loved his work. He continued after retirement age as the company insisted,” said Gulabsinh’s son Raju Rathod (35) who works as a driver for the city bus services.
“On Friday, when he left home he told us that he would return on Saturday night. But he stayed at work. This happened quite often and we did not anticipate that this time he would not return at all,” Raju added. Rathod was among six persons who were killed in the blast at the factory.
Around 60 km from the unit where the incident took place, a family of six who lost their only breadwinner is inconsolable. Waghabhai Bharwad (45), who worked as a driver, visited the company for the first time to carry oxygen cylinders to another unit in Ankleshwar.
Waghabhai’s brother, Gagan Bharwad, said, “My brother always ensured his safety. He was carrying all the documents to drive safely. He had just entered the premises when the blast took place and he lost his life. Who is to be blamed? His job was to drive safely, which he was doing. The management’s job was to ensure safety on the company’s premises, which they did not do and so many people lost their lives.”
Raju and Gagan were among the family members of all the deceased gathered outside the SSG Hospital since Saturday night, demanding action against the accused. While the families were verbally assured of a compensation, they refused to take the bodies until a written assurance was given.
“My brother was young. He has a wife and two children. He has a small farm in Savli, but since the farm did not fetch him any income, he started working as a contractual labourer. His son quit studies and is not employed yet. Who will look after the family now? The compensation will at least help the family survive. We refused to take the bodies because action was yet to be taken and no official from the company met us till late Sunday afternoon,” said Mahindra Parmar, brother of one of the deceased, Mafat Parmar.
Villagers from Gavasad, where the unit is located, also gathered to receive the body of Sanjay Vaghre (30). They claimed there were tremors and a huge explosive sound when they rushed to the site.
Sanjay’s brother, Mukesh Vaghre, said, “We knew he was at work. In the morning around 11, we heard a huge sound and also experienced tremors. We immediately rushed to the site but were not allowed in. We stood there for almost an hour when finally they started bringing the bodies out. I was still hoping that my brother was not among them.”
“They worked without proper safety measures. They were not given any safety gear. Strict action should be taken against all those responsible,” he added. Sanjay is survived by his wife and two children aged five and three respectively.
The family members of all the deceased agreed to take the bodies on Sunday evening after police arrested three persons in the case and the families were handed over a cheque of Rs 21 lakh each.