Tragedy of a toddler s death and his family s quest for answers
October 10, 2010 Sunday
BYLINE: SPECIAL REPORT By STEPHEN NAYSMITH SOCIAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT
SECTION: HS – NEWS; Pg. 17
LENGTH: 535 words
LITTLE Jasraj Singh Kataria loved to watch children walking to and from primary school from the window of his family s flat in Dennistoun, Glasgow.
It seems it was his curiosity which drew Jasraj, who was almost two, to an unused bedroom, where he pulled a heater to the window and climbed up onto it.
At around 10.30am on August 8 last year Jasraj fell from the back window of the third-floor flat. He died in Yorkhill children s hospital two days later.
His mother Jagmeet, an Afghani Sikh asylum seeker, found him lying on the ground outside.
He was motionless. I cried out his name and ran down the stairs. I picked my son up; his body was shaking. I remember phoning Taranjeet [her husband] to come quickly, she says. We turned off the life support machine on the 16th of August, a week before Jasraj s second birthday.
A police investigation concluded that the death had been an accident and a report was prepared, as is routine, in such cases and passed to the procurator fiscal.
However, until the Sunday Herald made inquiries, the UK Borders Agency had not issued a statement.
Homes with vulnerable occupants must have windows fitted with equipment to prevent falls.
The Angel Group, a company that houses asylum seekers on behalf of the Government, insists that the flat was fitted with window restrictors and safety locks.
The family fled Afghanistan but with their asylum claim turned down, they had been left destitute.
After Jasraj s death the family travelled to London with his body. They cremated Jasraj in London, which triggered a coroner s inquiry that concluded that it had been an accidental death.
The family solicitor, Aamer Anwar, said he has requested the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service investigate holding an FAI into the tragedy.
John Wilkes, chief executive of the Scottish Refugee Council, said: We would back calls for a Fatal Accident Inquiry in this case.
A spokesman for the Angel Group initially offered the Sunday Herald documentation to prove the flat had been safe, but their lawyers Carter Ruck told us confidentiality obligations prevented this being made public.
The company say the Home Office and the police have investigated Jasraj s death and would not have hesitated to take action against Angel Group if they had been to blame for the death.
In a letter, Carter Ruck said: Our client s utmost priority is the health and safety of the individuals it houses and, as such, it takes extremely seriously any incident in which an individual is injured within its properties, and particularly any incident involving the death of a child.
Linda Dempster, regional director of UKBA, said the agency had carried out anlooked at this incident and were satisfied that the accommodation provider had complied with all safety requirements.
The findings of this investigation have never been published and the UKBA refused to provide a copy.
A Crown Office spokesperson said: The circumstances of the death of Jasraj Kataria and a report thereon prepared by the Health and Safety Executive are under consideration.
Jagmeet and Taranjeet s grief is tempered by the fact that they have just had a daughter.
The family are seeking a judicial review of their asylum decision.
GRAPHIC: Jagmeet Kaur Kataria found her son Jasraj, left, lying outside their flat Photograph: Nick Ponty