Mumbai fire

Kamala Mills fire: Owners of 1Above lounge claim the police investigation is biased

The absconding co-owners accused the police of allowing the owners of Mojo’s Bistro to ‘tamper, hamper and destroy evidence’.

The owners of Mumbai’s 1Above lounge in Kamala Mills compound, where a massive fire killed 14 people on December 29, have now alleged that the police investigation is biased.

The owners – Kripesh Sanghavi, Jigar Sanghavi and Abhijit Mankar – wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and other top police officials on Tuesday with “evidence” that, they claimed, showed the fire started in nearby Mojo’s Bistro.

“The police have erroneously, malafidely and wrongly concluded for the reasons best known to them that the fire has erupted from the premises of 1Above,” they said in a statement. The police have reached this conclusion though there is no report from the fire brigade, the forensic laboratory or any competent authorities, they claimed.

The co-owners have been charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder but are still absconding. The fire broke out at 1Above inside Kamala Mills on December 29 and soon spread to other eateries and the adjacent building, which houses the offices of several TV channels. On Monday, the Mumbai Police had arrested two managers of 1Above as they had fled the restaurant on the night of the fire and did not help rescue the customers.

The police have “deliberately” not arrested or booked the owners of Mojo’s Bistro despite the “evidence circulated and published in the electronic media and various witness statements”, the owners’ said in the statement.

They also accused the police of allowing the owners of Mojo’s Bistro to “tamper, hamper and destroy evidence, influence witnesses and remain scot-free” because of the proprietors’ alleged “links in Nagpur and political support and influence in the police department”.

“The police are also preventing the insurance company from entering to survey under police supervision since the police are scared that the insurance company will discover that fire had erupted at Mojo’s Bistro and that evidence is still lying and not collected, or that evidence is destroyed,” the statement added.

On December 31, 1Above had claimed the adjoining Mojo’s Bistro was the “preliminary source” of the fire. “There was no escape from Mojo’s Bistro,” the pub had said. “Therefore, we believe that all their guests were told go through the premises of 1Above as we had an emergency exit.”

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