Mumbai: FIR against 2 firm directors for forcing 23-year-old man to enter 24-foot pit for repair of piling machine

Mumbai: FIR against 2 firm directors for forcing 23-year-old man to enter 24-foot pit for repair of piling machine

LT Marg police Tuesday registered a case against two directors of Mahavir Rentals and Leasing Pvt Ltd under sections of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. (Representational Image)

Sixteen months after a 23-year-old machine operator was charred to death during a welding work in south Mumbai, LT Marg police Tuesday registered a case against two directors of Mahavir Rentals and Leasing Pvt Ltd, a company that supplies construction work machine, under sections of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

The two directors, police said, were aware of the risks but had deliberately sent the machine operator 24-foot underground for the welding work after a part of their piling machine broke and got stuck inside the pit at a construction site in Girgaon on August 1, 2018.

In his statement to police, complainant Mohamed Masood Mustaq Alam had said the directors of the company had “forced” his brother, Mehfoos, to enter the pit to repair a piling machine.

Originally from Bihar, Alam said they would come to Mumbai depending on the availability of work. In mid-2018, the brothers were working for Mahavir Rentals and Leasing Pvt Ltd, Alam said. Mehfoos, employed as a senior machine operator, was working at a site in Vikhroli when he was reportedly called to Girgaon after a part of a piling machine broke and got stuck in the pit, the complainant said. Mehfoos reportedly had checked and informed the company officials that the broken part was too heavy to be removed from the pit and needed to be broken into pieces.

“The two directors had then called two professional welders. To repair the machine, the welders had to go 24 feet into the pit. As it was highly risky, the two welders had refused to do the job. Subsequently, the two directors asked Mehfoos to do the welding. He too had declined,” Alam said, adding that the two directors then forced Mehfoos to enter the pit and even threatened to sack him.

The complainant said the duo threatened to sack other employees working at the site, if Mehfoos failed to fix the machine. “They had assured Mehfoos that they will be completely responsible if any mishap occurred,” Alam added.

On August 1 night, Mehfoos went down the hole for welding work during which a fire erupted. As Mehfoos started screaming, he was pulled out by other labourers. “When Mehfoos was pulled out there were flames all over his body. As everyone at the site panicked, we tried to douse it with our hands, but the two directors got water and poured it on him,” Alam had said in his statement to police. Mehfoos was rushed to JJ hospital.

Alam claimed that the two directors had vanished hours after the incident. “After admitting him at JJ hospital, the two went home saying that they are going to eat and will return, but the two stopped answering calls since then,” he claimed.

The next day, Mehfoos was shifted to a private hospital in Goregaon, where he died 10 days later. “Since that day I have been approaching the police to register an FIR against the two directors, but they have been refusing,” Alam said.

It was only on Tuesday that the investigators called Alam to the police station and recorded his statement. A case was then registered under sections 304-II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 191(giving false evidence), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence), 203 (giving false information respecting an offence committed), 285 (negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible matter) and 34 (common intention) of Indian Penal Code.

Senior Police Inspector Deepak Nikam of LT Marg police station said, “Initially, the incident was reported at VP Road police station, which had recorded the statement of Mehfoos where he had said that he does not have any complaint against anyone. However, after I got transferred to this police station, I have been informed the deceased’s brother was reluctant to register a case under section 304-II, but we believed that this is a case of negligence. We have registered a case on the basis of Alam’s statement. No arrests have been made as the matter is under probe.”