12 killed in Midnapore illegal cracker unit blast, one arrested
Twelve people were charred to death and four others were injured in an explosion at an illegal firecracker factory at Pingla in West Midnapore district of West Bengal.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has ordered a CID investigation into the incident.
“Twelve charred bodies have been recovered from the blast spot, while four injured have been admitted to hospital,” IGP (Western Range) SN Gupta said.
The house owner Ranjan Maiti has been arrested, he added. The police said the factory was illegal and the blast took place around 10pm on Wednesday night. The raging inferno has been doused.
All victims were employees of the factory who were brought from Murshidabad district, the police said. The bodies were charred beyond recognition and it is difficult to even identify their gender. The bodies were sent to the Midnapore Medical College and Hospital for post-mortem.
To a question if the incident was like the Burdwan blast that took place in October last year and claimed the lives of two suspected Jamaat-ul Maujahideen Bangladesh terrorists, Gupta said, “It is (Pingla blast) an accident in a cracker factory.”
Asked if any central probe team, specially the NIA, had visited the spot or contacted him, Gupta said, “The question does not arise since it is a case of accident in a cracker factory.”
Asked the reason behind the blast, West Midnapore superintendent of Police B Ghosh said, “We are looking into it. Probably something went wrong during the manufacturing of crackers.”
The Chief minister, who has ordered a CID probe into the explosion, said: “How could so many firecrackers be prepared at one place and how so many explosive substances were accumulated in one place ?”
“I ask all Green police (civic police) personnel in all villages to keep a watch on such activities and to inform the local police station if they find explosive substances being accumulated at any place,” she said at a programme in South 24 Paraganas district.
Besides, neighbouring areas such as Sabang and Baliachak, besides Pingla, are being scanned for other such firecracker units. CID sources in Kolkata said a CID team would visit Pingla and a central forensic team has already reached there.
Meanwhile, the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have demanded an NIA probe into the incident. Congress leader Manas Bhunia, an MLA from Sabang, visited the spot and demanded an NIA probe. Bhunia, who earlier met governor KN Tripathi on the issue, said it was unlikely that the police did not know about the existence of the illegal cracker unit.
State BJP president Rahul Sinha has also demanded NIA investigation into the incident, alleging the involvement of Jaamat-e-Islami outfit in it. “I have informed Union Home minister Rajnath Singh of the explosion. The Chief Minister should request the Centre for an NIA probe into the explosion”, he said.
Stating that CPI-M had no faith in CID, party state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra called for a court- monitored probe.