Monday, August 8, 2022

Mundka fire: Building owner arrested

The owner of a building in outer Delhi’s Mundka where a massive fire claimed the lives of at least 27 people was arrested on Sunday, two days after the incident, police said here.
“We received information that Manish Lakra was going towards Haridwar in Uttarakhand. We laid a trap and nabbed him from Ghevra Mod after conducting multiple raids in Delhi and Haryana,” Sameer Sharma, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Outer), said.
Lakra used to live on the fourth floor of the commercial building, and he managed to escape to the adjacent building along with his family members when the fire broke out, police said.
The police have recovered 27 bodies so far and identified 14 of them as women and six as men so far, they said. Nineteen people are still unaccounted for.
Meanwhile, 17 people were injured in the fire incident, police said.
The building belonged to Lakra’s father, who died in 2015, leaving it to him, they said.
A CCTV camera and router manufacturing and assembling company, in whose office the fire is suspected to have started, had been on the premises since 2017. Its owners – Harish and Vijay Goel, who are brothers, have already been arrested.
A motivational programme was underway on the second floor of the building when the fire broke out. A father-son duo from Australia was conducting the session, the police said.
The programme was organised by the company and all its employees were present.
“Many people were trapped inside the building and could not come out as there was a lot of fire and smoke and had a single entry and exit point,” Sharma said.
Lakra was on the run since the fire incident, the DCP said, adding that raids were conducted in Delhi and Haryana to nab him.
There was a shop on the ground floor of the building while the first, second and third floors housed the office of Cofe Impex Pvt. Ltd which imports parts of CCTV cameras and routers and employed around 100 people, a senior police officer said.
The unidentified bodies are preserved in Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital mortuary in Mangolpuri, police said.
Building owner enjoyed protection from BJP: AAP
The AAP on Sunday held the BJP responsible for the death of 27 people in Mundka fire incident, alleging that the “illegal industrial activities” were going on in the building as its owner Manish Lakra enjoyed protection from the saffron party leaders.
Lakra was arrested on Sunday in connection with the massive fire, two days after the incident.
Addressing a press conference here, senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Durgesh Pathak also showed some pictures in which Lakra was seen with some BJP leaders, including former mayor of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation.
“Lakra is a BJP man. That’s why MCD gave him protection and illegal industrial activities continued in the building,” Pathak charged, adding “BJP and its leaders are responsible for the death of 27 people in the tragic incident of fire in the building. They were all hand in glove”.
The AAP leader demanded that a thorough probe be conducted into the case and the strictest action be taken against all those responsible for the incident, including those from the BJP who gave protection to Lakra and let the illegal activities continue in the building in violation of rules.
He said the BJP-ruled civic body gave factory licence for industrial activities in the building but later revoked it in 2017 after “they probably realised that it was wrong to allow industrial activities there”.
In 2019, Pathak said, a Supreme Court-appointed committee sealed the building.
“Even today, the building is officially sealed on papers. But the illegal industrial activities continued there in violation of all the rules. It’s because Lakra enjoyed protection from the BJP leaders,” Pathak said.
He also claimed the building was used as the BJP’s campaign office during the 2015 assembly polls in Delhi.
“All the BJP leaders, including (Delhi BJP president) Adesh Gupta, were well aware of the illegal industrial activities in the building despite it was officially sealed,” he alleged.
The BJP and its leaders have also allowed such illegal activities at various other locations in Delhi “for their greed”, the AAP leader said.
Earlier in the day, the Delhi Police arrested Lakra in connection with the Mundka fire incident. “We received information that Manish Lakra was going towards Haridwar in Uttarakhand. We laid a trap and nabbed him from Ghevra Mod,” Sameer Sharma, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Outer), said.
Lakra used to live on the fourth floor of the commercial building, and he managed to escape to the adjacent building, along with his family members, when the fire broke out, the police said.
The police have recovered 27 bodies and identified 14 of them as women and six as men so far, they said.

SourcePTI

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