Veera Swamy and Kotaiah, who hail from Mahbubnagar in Telangana, asphyxiated to death on Sunday

Wont you help a minister stuck in a manhole Wife of manual scavenger who died crying for helpImage By arrangement
news Manual Scavenging Monday, May 02, 2016 - 19:36

The words “I’ll be back soon” are said quite casually and received with no second thought. But those were the last words Bhagyalakshmi heard from her husband Veeraswamy, who left the house saying he had been called for a job – to clean a manhole chamber in Hyderabad’s Sultan Bazar area.

Veera Swamy (32) and Kotaiah, who hail from Mahbubnagar in Telangana, asphyxiated to death on Sunday after help failed to reach them on time when they lost consciousness inside the manhole.

When she first heard the news she thought it was rumour, but her relatives confirmed the tragedy and she rushed to the spot at round 1.30 pm. She alleged that the police had arrived long before she reached, they made no attempt to help the two men in the manhole.

“I saw some policeman and journalists who were taking videos and pictures instead of helping my husband who was dying inside the man-hole. They were just waiting for someone to come and help. A few of our relatives came to the spot after hearing the news and removed both the bodies from hole,” Bhagyalaxmi told The News Minute.

Sultan Bazar Inspector Shiva Shankar Rao who was at the spot said they did everything they could. “We were unable to remove the bodies because getting into a man-hole is not an easy job and only professionals can do it.” He added that the police called the GHMC and HMWSSB but no one turned up as it was a Sunday. Even the fire department was unavailable, he claimed.

Along with her grief, Bhagyalakshmi also bears the burden of difficulties created by their peculiar circumstances. “We don’t have a place to take my husband’s body because no house owner will allow a dead body into the house,” she said outside the mortuary as she waited for the hospital to release her husband’s body.

Bhagyalakshmi is domestic worker and her husband was a watchman at RK Estate at Ramkote. Even in Mahbubnagar, they do not have a house and now, she also fears that they will be turned out of the watchman’s accommodation in the apartment.

Veeraswamy earned about Rs 3,500 and so does Bhagyalakshmi. She doesn’t know how she will meet expenses and put her three children through private school. “No owner will let us live in the watchman’s accommodation without a man. How will I afford a rented house? How will I educate my kids?,” she says in tears, adding that she hopes the government will give a job.

Kotaiah’s wife is also in dire circumstances. Unwell for the past eight years with a condition that baffled doctors, Mangamma’s epileptic fits make it impossible for her to hold a job.

“Even if the government offers me a job I cannot take it up because of my health. I don’t know how I will raise my kids alone now,” she says. Mangamma depended on her husband, whom she married at a very young age, for everything.

Waiting outside the mortuary, Mangamma too is shattered. Both she and Bhagylakshmi will take the bodies back to Mahbubnagar for the last rites.

Mangamma’s pain is also laced with anger. “I don’t why our lives our so cheap for everyone. Just because we don’t have money, everyone treats us like this. What if some minister or some VIP was in danger? Would the police not help them? They would help them, but not poor folks like us.” Like Bhagyalkshmi, she too feels that if the police had pulled out the two men in time, their lives could have been saved. Giving in to her distress, she said: “I had tried to stopped my husband when he was leaving that day for work. I didn’t know he would never come back.”



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