The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on Monday arrested eight people, including two businessmen, Vishal Jailwal and Sumit Jailwal, taking the total number of arrests in the Jessop factory fire case to 13.
It has also asked Pawan Ruia, the owner of Jessop & Company, to see its officers at the latest by Saturday.
A Special Investigation Team (SIT) led by Subhankar Bhattacharya, Special Superintendent (South), has been formed to investigate into the theft of machines and the frequent incidents of fire at Jessop factory in Dum Dum.
The state government had tabled a Bill for the acquisition of both Dunlop and Jessop, two companies owned by Ruia.
However, it failed to take flight as the Bill is yet to get the consent of President Pranab Mukherjee. The state government has urged the President, requesting to clear the Bill at the earliest.
CID officers said preliminary investigation revealed that there was some motive behind the series of fire incidents that have occurred in the factory since early October. A bus which had been parked outside gate number 24 was gutted on October 13.
“There may be a deep-rooted conspiracy,” said a senior CID officer. The team visited the factory and talked to the security staff.
The team found that in many places the boundary wall had collapsed due to lack of maintenance.
The team is probing whether criminals had used the wall to bring trucks from outside to take away parts of costly machinery and the factory sheds.
The entire area has not been cleaned for many years and trees and bushes have mushroomed all over.
Police alleged that despite repeated reminders Jessop authorities had not taken the initiative to clean up the surroundings and repair the damaged portion of the boundary wall.
Local people alleged that a gang involved in selling scrap iron has been thriving in the area and its members had removed costly machines and sold them as scrap. Sheds of the factory have been removed and sold too. Surprisingly, the Jessop authorities did not take any step to stop the theft.
Senior police officers said those arrested have been interrogated and important information has been gathered. Police is trying to get hold of the gang involved in the theft.
State government officials said some industrialists had shown keen interest to acquire Jessop. It is the oldest engineering company in the country set up by the East India Company back in 1788. Jessop used to manufacture railway wagons, road rollers, pay loaders and cranes.