Delhi government sets up panel to probe Bawana factory fire

Crime Branch to handle probe; ex-gratia of H5 lakh for kin of 17 deceased; AAP slams BJP over licence to illegal cracker unit.

Published: 22nd January 2018 02:22 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd January 2018 10:16 AM   |  A+A-

Relatives of a Bawana fire victim mourns at her house in New Delhi on Sunday. | PTI

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The Bawana factory fire in which 17 people died on Saturday night will be probed by a committee constituted by the Delhi government, even as war of words broke out between the BJP and the AAP over licensing.

“Probe committee formed. Strict action will be taken after we receive report. I don’t think licence is provided for firecracker factories in Delhi. If this indeed was a cracker factory, it’s wrong that an illegal factory was being run,” state Industries Minister Satyendar Jain said in a tweet.

The Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd, in a report to Jain stated it was not mandated to issue any license or permission for factory construction as the responsibility of issuing license and approve building plans lie with the municipal corporations.

The investigation into the case was handed over to the Crime Branch from the district police on Sunday by Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik.

Meanwhile, Manoj Jain, who was running the factory was arrested and produced before the duty magistrate on Sunday, who sent him to judicial custody.

According to sources, the factory did not have a licence for producing firecrackers but for making plastic products. The management used to lock the factory so that no worker could go out even for lunch which made it a ‘death trap.’

“The owner was running the factory since January 1 this year. He had recently renovated the factory but there were no arrangements for fire safety. The management used to lock the main gate so that the workers couldn’t move out. There was no escape route in case of the emergency which made it a death trap,” a police officer investigating the case told TNIE.

“The autopsy of 12 bodies has been conducted and they have been handed over to their relatives. Three bodies are yet to be identified,” Delhi Police said.

Meanwhile, Rural Development Minister Gopal Rai said the Delhi government has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh for the kin of the victims.

Meanwhile, the tragedy took a political twist after a video surfaced showing BJP leader and North Delhi Mayor Preeti Aggarwal, who visited the factory site, telling her aides that they can’t comment on the incident as they were the ones who cleared the factory’s licence. The video has given grounds to the Aam Aadmi Party to target the BJP.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal retweeted the video clip. The BJP launched an attack on Kejriwal and accused him of indulging in ‘low-level politics’.

“People are trying to make that fake video viral at a sad time just to blame BJP. CM re-tweeted it, he must apologise for such low-level politics in a time of despair,” said Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted on Sunday, “My deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the fire at Bawana.

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