NEW DELHI: Ashi and Shaurya would have still been alive, had they stayed back at their maternal grandmother's place, said their grieving father, Umesh, as he waited for updates about the condition of his other family members, injured in a building collapse in northwest Delhi's Ashok Vihar on Wednesday.
According to Umesh, whose family lived on the second floor of the dilapidated four-storey building, Ashi (3) and Shaurya (2) returned home from their maternal grandmother's house, along with their mother and elder sister, Tuesday evening.
Relatives of those who were killed in the incident said the owner of the building was informed about its poor condition many times, but he always assured them nothing would happen and that everything was fine.
The 20-year-old building collapsed killing four children and a woman while injuring seven people, days after it was inspected by a municipal body team following complaints that the building was in a "dangerous" condition.
The second floor of the building was occupied by Umesh's family.
He was inconsolable while standing outside Deep Chand Bandhu Hospital where his wife Seema was admitted and his two children -- Ashi and Shaurya -- were declared dead.
Seema has been referred to LNJP Hospital since she is in a critical condition.
Umesh was at work when the incident happened.
"I work at a men's salon nearby and had left for work. One of my daughters, Rishika, was at school, while Seema, Ashi, Shaurya, my wife's sister, Manju, and their brother Laxman, were at home," he said.
Umesh said it was two months ago, he had informed the owner's son that he would vacate the house since it was in a "bad condition".
"We had informed Sachin, the owner's business partner, that we would vacate the house since the building was in a bad condition. He convinced us that everything was fine," he recalled.
Umesh said the occupants of the first floor had vacated the house a few months ago because the building was not safe for living.
He said Seema, along with her three children, had gone to her mother's house in Majnu Ka Tila on Tuesday.
"Seema's mother wanted her to stay for a few days but she said Rishika's exams were underway and she could not stay back. Had she stayed there, everything would have been fine. Seema's sister Manju had come to our house from Dwarka on Tuesday and was injured in the incident," he said.
Umesh used to pay a rent of Rs 8,000.
The third floor of the building was occupied by Bimlesh's family and his nephew Raj Bahadur's families.
Bimlesh works as a mason under the building's owner Dharmender, and lost his two sons -- Rajnesh (four) and Sumnesh (12) -- in the tragedy.
"As soon as I left home and had barely walked a few metres, I heard a loud noise and when I turned back, I saw the building collapse like a pack of cards. My wife had taken two of our other children along with her while Rajnesh and Sumnesh were at home," he said.
The building's owner did not pay heed to his complaints about the building being weak, Bimlesh said.
"Twenty days ago, after a MCD team inspected the building, I had informed Dharmender that the building has developed cracks and had even asked him to shift us to some other building he owned."
But he said, 'Everything is fine and if anything happens, I will get it repaired'," he added.
Raj Bahadur, his wife Sangeeta alias Munni, and two men, Kamlesh and Vijay, who were their guests were inside the house when the incident happened.
Munni was declared dead while the others are currently under treatment.
"My brother's three children were in school while his 14-year-old daughter, who works as a maid, was also out for work. I stay a few houses away in the same locality. We heard a loud noise when the building collapsed," Bahadur's sister Sunita said.
Police have registered a case under IPC Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), punishable with a maximum term of 10 years, against the owner Dharmender, who had rented out the building in Ashok Vihar, his partner Sachin and Sachin's father.