Family members of victims of the devastating fire at a three-storey commercial building in Mundka, West Delhi, had in mind some markers they were looking for to identify their loved ones as body bags were opened the one after another containing the charred remains of at least 27 people who died in the fire.
Among the items these people were looking for in the Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital morgue were a bracelet, bracelet, piece of dress, shoe and nail paint.
Some relatives, unable to bear the horrible shape the bodies were in and, tragically, the stench, had called other members or friends to help check and make sure they were claiming the “right body or the remains”.
According to the police, of the 27 bodies, only eight have been identified so far. Deputy Commissioner of Police (Outer District) Sameer Sharma said they are trying to determine if the missing persons are those whose bodies have not yet been identified.
To identify the dead, the police are working with forensic science experts. A team of seasoned FLS experts visited the site and collected forensic samples.
Deepa Verma, Director of Forensic Science Laboratory, Rohini, said: “Our two teams, including senior experts, are currently working on site. They will identify objects, take samples for identification and collection. FSL experts will help the police to identify and collect samples on the spot which will then be given to the investigator.
Doctors at Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital said once the hospital gets clearance from Delhi Police, along with a list of missing persons, they will start calling families to give their blood samples. DNA. “These will be matched with the corpses. The process takes at least four days,” said a doctor, who asked not to be named.
So far, the police investigation has shown that most of the victims and missing persons were women working at the CCTV editing unit in the building. According to family members, many of these women joined the unit about a year ago following relaxations in Covid19 restrictions where they worked for a monthly salary of ₹8000- ₹10,000.
Nafisa, who was looking for her sister-in-law, Masarrat, said there were only bones. “The stench is so strong you can’t breathe. Rarely did a body bag have a full human form. Some were missing a hand, legs and other organs. It’s awful,” she said.
Sunita, 35 (full name?) couldn’t bear it and called her brother to help find her 20-year-old daughter, Sonam. She had a picture of Sonam and hoped she could locate her daughter with her face intact. “My husband died in hospital in April last year from Covid-19. And here I am, again, looking for my dead daughter,” she said. .
Asha hoped to recognize her daughter-in-law Madhu, 29, with a nose ring she wore when she came to work at the factory on Friday. Madhu’s sister, Juicy Sinha, 22, who also worked in the unit, survived by jumping on a passing crane when the fire broke out and was stopped by locals to evacuate people on the second floor . Madhu also tried but she couldn’t make it. “I wish I could save my sister,” Sinha said.
Hope was fading for the family members of 18-year-old Nisha. They said she was wearing white jeans, but knew that wouldn’t help them anymore. “When the bodies were burned, how could the clothes survive. We tried, but we cannot identify him among the bodies that are kept here,” said Kavita, Nisha’s sister.
“All bodies look alike,” said a desperate Bittu Kumar, whose 19-year-old niece Mahi Sharma was among those missing. Kumar had been looking for Mahi for 18 hours, with some photos of her niece and showing them to doctors and police to help identify her.
Kumar said they learned about the fire from neighbors who worked in the same building. Mahi’s brother Rohit reached the place and joined the locals in rescuing the trapped occupants.
“I saved more than a dozen people from the building. I broke the window on one side and helped people down using ladders, but I couldn’t find my sister,” said Rohit, who injured his leg. hand during the rescue.
For the families of — Tania Bhushan, Mohini Pal, Yashoda, Vishal, Ranju Devi, Drishti, Kailash Jyani and her son Amit, all company employees — Saturday brought some sort of closure as they were able to identify their bodies .
The family of Yashoda Devi, 38, a resident of Mubarakpur, identified her body by a ring and earrings she was wearing. “We tried to reach her but her phone was switched off. We looked for her in all the hospitals, but we couldn’t find her. However, this morning we came here and found his body,” Yashoda’s daughter Rinku said.
The parents of Tania Bhushan, 26, the company’s sales manager, struggled through Friday night hoping and praying they would get a call that she was alive. On Saturday, they found her body, recognized by a bracelet she was wearing. “She was going to get married in October,” said Nikhil, her brother.
Vijay Pal recognized the remains of his 42-year-old wife Mohini from a bracelet he gave her in January this year. “The bracelet had two turtles engraved on it,” he said with a choked throat.
Drishti identified her body by a ring she wore on her right hand. The two had been a couple for four years and got engaged last year to wed in November later this year. “I can’t believe she’s gone,” he said.