Millennium Post

Fire tragedy: Trust chairman arrested, ED to launch probe

The chairman of the trust that ran the hospital where a devastating fire on Monday killed 21 people on Thursdayturned himself in to police and was arrested even as the SIT on black money ordered a probe by the Enforcement Directorate into the trust’s financial transactions.

Manoj Ranjan Nayak, the chairman of Sikshya O Anusandhan Charitable Trust that runs the SUM Hospital here, surrendered before the police and 3.30 AM and was taken to an undisclosed location for interrogation, barely hours after the Odisha police issued a Lookout Circular against him and another trustee Saswati Das.

Nayak’s arrest takes to five the number of those held in connection with the fire tragedy, which also left scores injured.

“Manoj Nayak surrenders at Khandagiri Police Station. He is arrested and under interrogation,” Commissioner of Police, Y B Khurania told reporters.

Even as he was being interrogated, information came that the The Special Investigation Team (SIT) on Black Money has asked the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to probe financial transactions of the trust he headed.

Though the reason behind the SIT order was not immediately known, a senior police official said the ED has been directed to examine all financial transactions of the trust that runs several institutions including the SUM Hospital.

Sources said Vice Chairman of the Supreme Court- appointed SIT on black money Justice Arijit Pasayat has also asked Odisha police to cooperate with the ED during their investigation.

“We have received a letter from the SIT on black money last night asking us to cooperate with the ED which is to probe the money transactions of Sikshya O Anusandhan Charitable Trust,” said Director General of Police K B Singh.

The SIT has asked the police to ensure that at no document or evidence pertaining to financial transactions of the trust including the hospital are tampered with or destroyed, the DGP said.

He said efforts were on to apprehend Saswati Das.

Earlier, four senior officials of Sum Hospital including its Medical Superintendent Pushparaj Samantasinghar had been arrested on Tuesday night on the basis of an FIR lodged by the state government’s fire service department. 

The hospital officials were booked under section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide), 285 (Negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible matter) and 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of IPC.

Union Health Minister J P Nadda, who rushed here from New Delhi under instructions from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had on Wednesday said the facility was running without a valid fire safety clearance. The hospital was also accused of overlooking a 2013 advisory of the state government to improve its firefighting apparatus.

Another FIR was filed against the hospital authorities on behalf of Director, Medical Education and Training, alleging gross negligence in taking adequate fire safety measures.

That apart, the Revenue Divisional Commissioner (Central) is inquiring into the incident.

Bhubaneshwar Police Commissioner Y B Khurania said more people could be arrested during the course of investigation.
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