The National Human Rights Commission issued a notice to the Delhi government on Monday in connection with the fire at Anaj Mandi, in which 43 people died. The city’s police chief and civic department were also sent a notice.
The commission rapped authorities for the conditions under which 43 people died including poor ventilation in the building, and rooms filled with highly combustible material. “…It seems the authorities have not learnt any lessons from the tragic incidents occurred in the recent past and incident like Anaj Mandi fire catastrophe was waiting to happen. Apparently, no one seems to bother about the rules/norms,” the commission’s notice read.
Authorities have six weeks to reply with suggestions on making “congested areas with Delhi” safer and “worth living for citizens”.
Meanwhile, the owner and manager of the building that caught fire in Delhi’s Anaj Mandi neighbourhood on Sunday were sent to 14 days in police custody on Monday, PTI reported. The Delhi Police had on Sunday evening arrested the owner, identified as Rehan, and his manager Furkan.
The fire broke out in the second floor of a four-storey building on Rani Jhansi Road around 5.22 am. The Delhi Fire Service said the building did not have a fire safety clearance or safety equipment.
Metropolitan Magistrate Manoj Kumar on Monday remanded the two to police custody after the department sought custodial interrogation. Rehan and Furkan were charged under sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 285 (negligent conduct with respect to fire) under the Indian Penal Code. The case was transferred to the Crime Branch.
“Forty-three innocent people from Bihar, Purnia, Samastipur have died in this blaze,” said Inspector Vijay Kumar, who is the investigating officer in the case, according to The Indian Express. “It is a very sensitive issue. We may also have a law and order problem on our hands. We arrested them yesterday [Sunday] and we need their custody otherwise it would be injustice.”
The police said the two accused were childhood friends and worked together since 2003. Officials prepared a list of the properties and informed the court that they had been given to some people, whose identities had not been established yet.
The building where the fire broke out housed bag-making and plastic frame moulding facilities with nearly 80 workers. The police told the court that many of the deceased were yet to be identified and that it would take time to do so.
The lawyer for the two accused contended that the custodial interrogation will not be necessary as the inquiry was documentary in nature, adding that the owner and the manager will cooperate in the case.
Following the episode, the Delhi government had ordered an investigation into the incident. Revenue Minister Kailash Gahlot sought a report from the district magistrate (central) in seven days.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced compensation of Rs 10 lakh for families of those who died, and Rs 1 lakh to those injured after visiting the site of the fire.