Forty-six year-old Sangeeta Devi was suffering from fever and her family had asked her to take the day off. But the fear of losing a day’s pay made Sangeeta go to work — a decision that cost her, her life. Sangeeta was one of the three persons killed in a factory fire in Jhilmil Saturday.

“My mother’s monthly salary was just Rs 8,500. The rule was that if a worker took leave, his/her salary would be cut for that day. Sunday is her weekly off but my mother would have lost Rs 600 if she skipped Saturday’s,” her 14-year-old son, Sunny Kumar, said.

Originally from Bihar’s Nalanda, Sangeeta was the sole bread earner in her family of five. Sangeeta’s relatives said that her husband is unemployed and an “alcoholic”. The couple had moved to Delhi around 10 years ago. Their three children – two sons and a 23-year-old daughter – live and study in Bihar.

Like Sangeeta, 50-year-old Manju Devi, who also died in the factory fire, had to take care of her family with her income of Rs 6,000 a month. Manju’s family said her husband had a liver ailment and a majority of her income was spent on his treatment.

“My father was admitted to the hospital for almost a month. As my mother’s income was not enough to bear the expenses, my 17-year-old brother started working in the same factory last month. He was there when the fire broke out. Firefighters rescued him, but my mother was trapped inside,” Manju’s son Suraj,16, said.

Shoaib Ali,19, was the third victim of the fire. An arts graduate, he lived in Delhi’s Seelampur and worked as an accountant in the factory for a monthly salary of Rs 10,000. “The fire took place around 9am but we were informed about it at 2pm. Wasim, one of the owners, asked us to visit the hospital. The hospital authorities informed us that my son was dead,” Fatima Begum, Ali’s mother, said.

First Published: Jul 14, 2019 04:22 IST