Few would be quick to associate the deaths of six pavement dwellers in Mumbai on Sunday night as having anything to do with the Tatas. But India’s much revered family-owned conglomerate is directly or indirectly, call it whatever you like, involved in the incident where six youngsters, in a drunken state, drove over six individuals sleeping on a pavement killing them while injuring nine others.
The five boys and one girl were returning from a party thrown by a liquor company at the Taj Land’s End, a five-star hotel from the house of Tatas. Though the Taj group of hotels do not share the famous ‘Tata’ forename with their sister concerns such as Tata steel or Tata chemicals, they are a prominent part of the parent group’s businesses, with 57 hotels across India and 18 more around the globe.
The six youngsters, between the ages of 18-21, reported positive on the breath analyser test and were found in possession of alcohol that they had bought at the Land’s End. The police now will be questioning the staff at the hotel, as it is illegal of a hotel to sell alcohol to anyone without checking them for a liquor license. The hotel staff clearly lapsed in their duty, that has lead to six innocent individuals being killed in their sleep.
Now there is also another angle to this story. The six killed and the others injured in this tragic incident were migrant labourers from other states in India, mostly from southern Tamil Nadu. They were in Mumbai to lay sewage pipes. The police are searching for the contractor who brought these labourers to the city but didnt provide them with suitable accomodation facilities, leaving them to build makeshift shanties on the pavements and sleeping there that ultimately caused their deaths.
So, a lapse there has been on two counts. If care had been taken on either account, this incident may not have taken place. We now have to see how the investigation progresses. None of the media reports have yet mentioned who the labour contractor was working for.
Poulomi Saha, India Editor