The incident occurred early on Saturday in the Sadar area, a popular shopping destination in Meerut.
The collapsed building had reportedly been a matter of dispute as it was illegally constructed on premises that belonged to the defense forces.
The High Court ordered the demolition of the four-storey mall after the Cantonment Board — administration body under control of Defence Ministry — filed a petition.
The first attempt to demolish the mall was forcefully stopped as it met public protests, but the board officials returned this Saturday accompanied by police, administrative officials and army jawans.
According to the city officials, property owners were given three hours to make sure there were no people inside the building by the time the razing begins. But apparently no proper check was conducted.
A disaster response crew rushed to the scene when it turned out the mall wasn't empty. The crew identified 4 people killed as members of one family. As the tragedy unfolded, residents of Meerut gathered around the site shouting in anger and alleging negligence.
Jagmohan Shakal, a former member of the Cantonment Board, referred to the incident as a massacre, and accused army and administrative officials of running away from the site instead of helping to rescue the trapped people.