The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Boy dies after fall inside mall
Harshita, Aahan’s mother, at the hospital. A Telegraph picture

Bangalore, July 1: A six-year-old boy playing around a shopping mall’s escalator slipped through the gap where the handrail ends, falling four floors to his death here this afternoon.

Class I student Aahan Bhandari, who dropped 50 feet before mother Harshita’s horrified eyes at the Garuda complex, died of his head injuries two-and-a-half hours later in hospital.

The freak accident, probably the first ever at an Indian mall, may have shed light on a possible lethal flaw in shoppers’ havens, though it isn’t clear if every mall has a gap between the escalator handrail and the floor railings.

It can also be an eye-opener for parents who till now haven’t had any warning that it mayn’t be safe to let their children run about the cavernous malls while they shop in peace.

The Bhandaris had arrived in a group of 25, made up of family and friends, to watch a film at the Inox multiplex. Aahan began playing with his cousin as the grown-ups got busy buying the tickets.

Mall director S. Uday Garudachar admitted there was a gap between the handrail and the railings.

“We wanted to place two metal bars there but found this wasn’t feasible,” he said. “We were planning to place a glass sheet on the sides. This will be our priority now.”

Even the balcony railings of the mall — built in the usual mezzanine style where floors don’t run wall to wall — have huge gaps, more than a foot high and about a foot and a half wide. Some of these gaps, big enough for very young children to slip through, are covered by glass sheets but many are open.

Aahan was the younger of the two sons of Bharat Bhandari, an industrialist, and studied at Vidyashilp school in Yelahanka.

The police, who studied the CCTV footage, said it was a case of negligence, but no arrests have been made yet. The mall is a joint venture between the Bangalore City Corporation, which owns the land, and a private builder.

Two years ago, a seven-year-old boy was crushed between a moving lift and a floor in a Bangalore shopping arcade as he amused himself by going up and down.

But the only other known fatal fall at a mall took place in Gurgaon last year, when 22-year-old store employee Sonis Javed jumped from the third floor.

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