The owner of the firecracker factory in Delhi, where a fire killed 17 workers on Saturday, has been sent to one day in judicial custody, ANI reported on Sunday. Manoj Jain will be produced in court on Monday where police will request for police custody of the accused. The case has been transferred to the Crime Branch, ANI reported.
The factory in northwest Delhi’s Bawana Industrial Area had started operations just three weeks ago, Jain told police after his arrest, according to The Indian Express. He was running a firecracker unit despite reportedly having the licence to run only a plastic factory, police said.
Jain was arrested late Saturday. The police are also investigating the role of his friend Lalit Goyal, though Jain has said he was running the factor alone, Deputy Commissioner of Police of Rohini, Rajneesh Gupta said.
Some people are still believed to be trapped inside the building, the Hindustan Times reported.
Police have yet to seize the documents of ownership of the factory. The owner said he had taken the building on rent on January 1, Gupta was quoted as saying.
Police have filed a First Information Report under Sections 285 (negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible matter) and 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code.
The fire could have started because of electric wires, which were “running haywire” in the building, GC Mishra, director of Delhi Fire Services, said. “There was no firefighting arrangement there,” he told ANI.
However, the reason for the fire could only be confirmed after an inquiry report, he said.
Earlier, Additional Director of Delhi Fire Service Atul Garg said: “Ideally, there should be smoke detectors, alarms and water sprinklers in every floor of the building, including the basement. But none of it was there in the said building.”
Meanwhile, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said the government had formed a committee to investigate the fire, and that “strict action” would be taken after the panel gives its report. Autopsies were conducted only on the bodies that had been identified, he told PTI.
“I do not think the licence is provided for firecracker factories in Delhi,” he said. “If this indeed was a cracker factory, it is wrong that an illegal factory was being run.”
The Delhi government has announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the families of the dead and Rs 1 lakh to the injured.