Kin’s angst still simmers three years after death of 9 firemen in Ludhiana factory collapse

Three years after the plastic factory tragedy near Suffiyan Chowk on November 20, 2017, families of three firefighters killed in the building collapse are still running from pillar to post for government jobs.

The jobs were announced by chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh as part of the compensation for the families of the nine firefighters killed in the incident.

Claiming that no one was committed to providing them relief, families of firemen Manpreet Singh, Sukhdev Singh and Vishal said the files were being delayed by authorities on pretext of one objection or another.

“My only son was among the nine firefighters who died in the plastic factory tragedy and we are still awaiting the government job. The authorities have been raising unnecessary objections in processing our case. In the past, they also claimed that kin of Manpreet and Sukhdev were not entitled to jobs as they were contractual employees. Later, they agreed to provide a job to my daughter, but the file is just stuck in red tape,” said Manpreet’s father Malkit Singh, who also lost his wife to heart disease in March this year.

“I just want to question the authorities, whether my son was standing shoulder to shoulder with the rest or not?” he rued.

Having lost their breadwinners, the three firemen’s families are struggling to make their ends meet.

Vishal’s mother Asha Rani said, “Though I am a government employee, I will retire in two years and Vishal’s wife and two sons are dependent on me. We have been demanding a job for Vishal’s brother Vikas, who is also married and does menial jobs. Despite making rounds of government offices, no one is paying heed to our situation.”

Similarly, Sukhdev’s wife, who now lives with her parents, said she and her three daughters were dependent on her family. “If the government provides me a job, I could take care of my children myself,” she added.

Also bereft of benefits of gallantry award

All nine firefighters were awarded the President’s Fire Service Medal for gallantry in January 2019, but the benefits still elude their families.

These include a special allowance of over Rs 6,000 per month, discount on air travel, concession in school admission fee for children, widow quota in jobs, etc.

MC commissioner Pardeep Sabharwal said, “We have already forwarded MC’s recommendations regarding the jobs to the state government that has yet to accord its final approval. As far as the special allowance is concerned, its file has been forwarded to the finance and contracts committee for its nod.”

Besides firemen Manpreet, Sukhdev and Vishal, the factory collapse had also claimed the lives of sub-fire officers Rajinder Sharma, Sumohan Gill and Raj Kumar, leading firemen Pooran Singh and Manohar Lal, and fireman Rajan. In all, 16 people were killed in the tragedy.

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