FIR lodged, cops cite negligence; form 7-member SIT
Kolkata: Kolkata Police on Tuesday registered a suo motu FIR in connection with the inferno at the New Koilaghat building on Strand Road that engulfed nine lives due to alleged negligence on part of the Eastern Railway (ER) that compelled the firefighters to take the lift. A seven-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) has also been formed to probe the case.
It is alleged that despite repeated requests made to the Railway Protection Force (RPF) officials by fire brigade officials and state Fire minister Sujit Bose to provide the map of the building, none cooperated. Though no ER officials were seen at the spot on Monday night, however, it is being claimed by the Railway authority that senior officials were present. On Tuesday, after registering the FIR accusing responsible authority or people on charges of causing death by negligence, the Detective Department (DD) of the city police took over the investigation and forensic experts collected samples from the gutted 13th floor of the building. After visiting the incident site, experts claimed that the fire may have been caused due to overloading of power that led to a short circuit. They also claimed that the sprinklers installed on the said floor were not working when the fire broke out and the extinguishers were outdated.
Sources informed that the reservoir of the building was also empty. When the firefighters tried to spray water using hydrants installed on the 12th floor, they did not find any water. It is further alleged that no fire audit was carried out for the past one year.
Meanwhile, ASI of Hare Street police station Amit Bhawal who died on Monday night was given a gun salute at Lalbazar. Kolkata Police Commissioner Soumen Mitra along with other senior officials paid their tributes to the braveheart.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each for the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for the seriously injured.
Meanwhile, countering a tweet by BJP's Amit Malviya, the state Fire minister said: "From installing hydraulic ladders to largely containing the blaze, our men did everything possible. It is the railways which could not provide us with a map of the interiors of the 12th floor." It may be mentioned that Malviya claimed that the state government should equip the local bodies with fire-fighting equipment and make appropriate protocols.