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Ludhiana plastic factory blaze: Firemen’s families rue bureaucratic apathy – cities

Families of the nine firemen, who lost their lives in the 2017 plastic factory fire and the subsequent building collapse, gathered near the tragedy site at Suffiyan Chowk on Sunday, to mark the third anniversary of the tragedy.

In all, 16 persons had lost their lives in the incident, of which nine were firemen.

Paying homage to their loved ones, the family members expressed disappointment over the bureaucratic apathy towards them. They claimed that the authorities seem to have forgotten the sacrifice of the firemen.

Sixty-four-year-old Malkit Singh, who is the father of deceased fireman Manpreet Singh, said, “It has been three years since my son’s death but so far, no one in my family has been offered a job on compassionate grounds. Even those who were offered a job, have been recruited on probationary basis which is unfair.”

Navan Hans, son of firefighter Manohar Lal who died in the incident, said that for the past two years, they had been holding a path (prayer ceremony) at the central fire station, near Laxmi Cinema but this time, they were denied permission.

“We were told to look for another venue, following which, we approached the rickshaw factory located adjacent the tragedy site. During the plastic factory fire, the rickshaw factory had also suffered a lot of damage. When we approached the factory owner, he happily agreed and allowed us to organise the prayer meeting here,” said Hans.

He added while honouring 14 other firemen for their bravery last year, the Centre had stated that the families of the firemen who died in the Ludhiana factory fire will be provided certain allowances. “But so far, we have received nothing—neither by the Centre nor the state government,” said Hans.

Congress MLA Surinder Dawar, zonal commissioner Jasdev Singh Sekhon and the fire department officer visited the sport and paid their respects. Family members claimed that they had sent invitations to mayor Balkar Singh Sandhu and MC commissioner Pardeep Sabharwal too, but they did not turn up.

Despite repeated attempts, MC commissioner Pardeep Sabharwal was not available for comments. Mayor Sandhu, meanwhile, said, “I share a personal connect with the families of firefighters who laid down their lives for others. I make it a point to attend all their programmes. Today, I was out of town due to a family function. And despite my best efforts, I could not make it back on time. I had intimated the families about it.”

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