Panic was triggered at Raghunathpur in Purulia with an explosion taking place in a one-storey building that housed an illegal firecrackers manufacturing unit. No one was killed in the explosion but the entire roof of the building collapsed and fire spread to adjacent houses.
Three persons including the owner of the house Amit Goswami and his brother-in-law Nisith Bandyopadhyay were detained. Tenants of the house, who were from Murshidabad, had fled soon after the incident.
National Investigation Agency (NIA) sought report on the incident. NIA had taken up the Khagragarh blast incident in which involvement of Jamat-Ul-Mujahideen (Bangladesh) was revealed.
Police said on Monday morning the local residents heard a loud sound of explosion and rushed to the spot. They found fire had broken out in the building situated on around 1200 square feet area and the roof of the building had collapsed. They initiated the task to douse the flames, but they had to step back as three minor explosions took place again.
Policemen from Purulia Sadar which is situated within 200 metres of the spot, and fire-tenders were pressed to douse the flames. Firefighters reached the spot and found the flames spread to two adjacent tiled roof houses. Firefighters took around four hours to extinguish the fire and police initiated a probe in this connection. Police have also searched the debris and found explosives which were stacked in two sacks in a corner of the portion of the illegal firecrackers unit.
Preliminary investigation revealed that Bandhyopadhyay was the main person behind running the firecrackers manufacturing factory and there were three more rooms in the same building where some people from Murshidabad used to stay as tenant.
All the tenants had fled soon after the incident took place. Police suspect that the tenants used to work as labourers in the factory. According to the officers of the state fire and emergency services department, a huge stock of explosives were stored in the factory and it exploded when someone thrown lit butt of a cigarette in the heap.
There was no loss of life as the workers used to stay in the rooms adjacent to the factory under the same roof and they ran out as soon before the flames had spread to their rooms.
Police interrogated Goswami and Bandyopadhyay face to face to know that for how long the factory had been operating at that place. Police suspect that they have connection with the suppliers who buy firecrackers from such illegal factories at a cheaper price and sell it at premium. Thus the police are trying to identify the people to whom they used to sell the items to get hold of other such illegal firecrackers manufacturers.
Forensic experts will be visiting the spot on Tuesday. Senior police officers in the district visited the spot. NIA has also sought a report in this connection stating the nature of the explosives, role of the three detained persons and the absconding tenants and the reason behind storing such a huge quantity of explosives. The report is expected to be filed by Monday.
It may be mentioned that 12 persons were killed in an explosion in a firecrackers manufacturing unit at Pingla in West Midnapore in May 2015. So many people were killed as the employees were working when the explosion had taken place.
The state police had taken stringent steps to identify the illegal firecrackers manufacturing units across the state. Raids were conducted and many such units were also closed.
A probe has also been initiated to find how the unit was functioning at Raghunathpur by keeping the police in dark.