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Thursday, April 25, 2013

YOUNG LIVES SNUFFED OUT IN BHIWANDI Three kids suffocate in unlocked car


Bodies Found In A Car Godown; Manager Held For 'Negligence'



In a nightmarish tragedy, three Class I children, including a brother-sister duo, aged between five and seven, suffocated to death inside an unlocked car in the Kalher area of the powerloom town of Bhiwandi. 
    The three were last seen playing on Wednesday around 11.30am in a building adjacent to a large godown for cars. The godown has a capacity to accommodate more than 100 vehicles. The three decided to enter the godown through an approximately 25-foot-wide opening in its compound wall. They then stepped inside an unlocked car. Once inside, though, the children did not know how to open its doors. Their bodies were found 13 hours later, in the wee hours of Thursday. There were nail marks on the dusty windowpanes, indicating that they had unsuccessfully struggled to break them open, investigating police officers told TOI. 
    The victim's family demanded action against the godown's owner saying if the compound wall had been properly constructed and if the car had been locked, the tragedy would have been averted. 
    The local Narpoli police have seized the car and regis
tered a case against Sumit Malhotra, director of the car dealership, Global Gallery Agency Pvt Ltd, and Amit Sakpal, delivery checking executive in charge of managing the godown. Sakpal was arrested on Thursday. 
    The three kids—Rubi Maji (5), her brother Dilip Maji (7) and their friend Raj Soni (6)—were playing in Raj's Ramchandra building. Raj's mother Poonamdevi told TOI that around 11.30am on Wednesday, her son went out to play with his friends. Around 12.15pm, she last heard his sounds from her first-floor flat. After a while, 
she asked her elder daughter Sanjana (8) to call out to him. 
    Sanjana, though, returned around 1pm and told her mother that she could not find him. 

Poonamdevi then visited the Majis' residence in a neighbourhood chawl, and found that their children, too, had not returned. Both mothers began to look for their kids. 

    "After three hours of relentless search, we called up their fathers at work," said Uma, mother of the Maji kids. Fathers of both sets of children are em
ployed as handymen in private companies in Bhiwandi. 
    They rushed home and joined the search, and so did their neighbours. When all failed, they finally lodged a miss
ing persons complaint with the police on Wednesday evening. 
    "Around 12.30am on Thursday, the police managed to trace our kids inside a car parked in the godown; at first sight, they seemed unconscious," said an inconsolable Vinod Soni, Raj's father. The police opened the car, which was unlocked, and rushed them to Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital, where they were declared "brought dead". 
    M K Bhosale, deputy commissioner of police, Thane Zone 4, said, "We registered a case against the godown's owner as primary investigations 
clearly show that the incident occurred due to the negligence of the godown owner. He had left an opening in its compound wall." He further said the owner employed just two security guards for the rather large godown and that the guards kept a watch only at the front gate. 
    Coincidentally, the children's fathers lived and worked alone in Bhiwandi for years. Both brought down their families to live with them three years ago, and both had enrolled their children in Marathi medium schools, though they are from Uttar Pradesh. 

RETRACING A NIGHTMARE 
Wednesday, 11.30am | Siblings Rubi (5) and Dilip Maji (7) and Raj Soni (6) were last seen playing in the compound of Ramchandra building in the Kalher locality of Bhiwandi. Raj lived in this building 
12.30pm | Raj's mother, Poonamdevi, asked her elder daughter Sanjana (8) to call out to him 
1pm | Sanjana returned saying she could not find Raj. Poonamdevi visited the Maji children's residence in a neighbouring chawl, where she learnt from their mother, Uma, that they too were missing. Both the mothers launched a search in the locality, but to no avail 
4pm | After three hours, they called their husbands, who rushed home. Their neighbours joined the search 8pm | The families finally approached the local Narpoli police station Thursday, 12.30am | The kids' bodies were found in a car in a godown next to the building. There were nail marks on windows, indicating they had tried to break them

THE VICTIMS


Raj Soni | The six-year-old was a student of Class I at Kendra Marathi School in Bhiwandi. The son of a handyman who works in a private company, was found dead on the driver's seat of a car in a godown


Rubi Maji | The five-year-old was a student of Class I in a local anganwadi school. She, too, was the daughter of a handyman in a private company. Her body was found on the back seat along with her brother Dilip's


Dilip Maji | The seven-year-old was also a student of Class I in the anganwadi school


HELPLESS END: The unlocked car (inset) was parked in this godown at Bhiwandi. The three children (right) got trapped inside the car as they did not know how to open its doors


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