Alipur factory fire: All deceased victims identified, says Delhi Police | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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Alipur factory fire: All deceased victims identified, says Delhi Police

Feb 18, 2024 06:52 AM IST

Akhil Jain, son of the factory owner Ashok Jain (who was also killed) and building owner Raj Rani joined the probe Friday and interrogated

The Delhi Police on Saturday said it has identified all even victims who were charred to death in the deadly fire that broke out in a building that housed an illegal paint manufacturing factory in Nehru Enclave near Alipur in outer Delhi on Thursday evening.

On Thursday (Feb 15), the blaze quickly intensified due to inflammable material stored inside and outside the Alipur factory — a single-storey building over around 250 yards — before spreading to 15 houses and shops. (Raj K Raj/HTPhoto)
On Thursday (Feb 15), the blaze quickly intensified due to inflammable material stored inside and outside the Alipur factory — a single-storey building over around 250 yards — before spreading to 15 houses and shops. (Raj K Raj/HTPhoto)

Police officers aware of the matter said that the DNA samples of family members of the deceased were collected and preserved over Friday and Saturday, adding that the autopsies were carried out in the presence of the families. The bodies were handed over to the respective families on Saturday, some of which were sent in ambulances to the victims’ hometowns in Uttar Pradesh, they added.

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The 11 people were identified as Ashok Jain, 62, Ram Surat Singh, 44, Vishal Gaund, 46, Pankaj Kumar, 20, Shubham Kumar, 19, Mira Devi, 44, Brij Kishore, 19, Kripa Shankar, 42, Ram Pravesh Kumar, 18, and Harish Chander Yadav, 59.

Senior police officers said they were verifying the documents related to the ownership of the two firms — Madhav Paints and Chemicals and Om Sons Paints and Chemicals — through the authorities concerned. They said that Akhil Jain, son of the factory owner Ashok Jain (who was also killed) and the building owner Raj Rani joined the investigation on Friday evening, adding that the two have been apprehended.

They were interrogated regarding the ownership of the building and the paint manufacturing firms and were also asked to furnish the documents. HT reached out to Akhil Jain who did not respond to queries.

On Thursday, the blaze quickly intensified owing to the inflammable material stored inside and outside the factory — a single-storey building over around 250 yards — before spreading to at least 15 houses and shops within a 50-feet radius. The initial fire came in contact with around 50 drums of inflammable liquid in the paint factory, subsequently leading to a series of explosions that lasted around half an hour. The building with a tin roof, which housed the factory for five years, had collapsed before rescue operations began. At least 22 fire tenders with over 80 firemen worked for nearly 12 hours to douse the flames, rescue locals, and later retrieve 11 charred bodies from the factory, police said.

Deputy commissioner of police (outer-north) Ravi Kumar Singh said that a case of attempt to commit culpable homicide and culpable homicide not amounting to murder was registered under sections 308 and 304 of the Indian Penal Code at the Alipur police station based on a daily diary (DD) entry.

“Akhil attended the last rites of his father and will join our investigation again. He said he works as a lecturer in a private institute in Sonepat, Haryana and was in Guwahati, Assam, when the incident occurred. Akhil told us that his father was taking care of the business. We are verifying his claims,” said an officer associated with the case, asking not to be named. The officer added that Ashok Jain also had another son, who lives outside India.

In the first information report (FIR), a copy of which HT has seen, police said that the factory owner “deliberately stored inflammable material in huge quantities (in the factory premises), risking human life”.

“The factory had multiple machines and iron drums, which were later found in burnt condition. One Hyundai Creta car, one good tempo, and four motorcycles parked in the lane outside the factory were gutted. Many houses around the factory also caught fire and suffered losses,” the FIR said.

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi, in an official statement on Friday, said that the property that caught fire was an illegal unit. However, despite repeated queries made on Friday, MCD did not inform how the illegal unit was being allowed to operate in a congested residential neighbourhood and whether any action has been taken against such units in the region. The incident and lapses have also raised questions about the operation of the factory licensing department of the civic body, which is authorised to take action against illegal factories in non-conforming residential areas.

A municipal official on condition of anonymity said that only small-scale household industries like khadi, handloom, incense making, etc., are permitted in residential areas after obtaining a household industry license and such hazardous units can never be legally operated. “Action against industries in the non-conforming area has been taken several times but new units keep opening up,” he said.

“The single-storey building housed two small offices, a warehouse, and a hall used for manufacturing and packing paints, one of the residents said, adding that it only had a single gate for entry and exit, which was locked from inside at the time of the incident. The factory owner used to keep it locked during working hours,” said a resident, asking not to be named, adding that this might have hampered the evacuation.

Life turns upside down for families

Of the 11 dead people, the families of Harish Chandra Yadav, and Kripa Shankar were waiting outside Babu Jagjivan Ram Memorial Hospital to receive their bodies after autopsy. Both of them belonged to the Diha Uparhar village in Prayagraj, UP, and were working in the factory. Their deaths not only claimed the sole breadwinners of their families but also shattered the plans of their loved ones.

“I am appearing for the ongoing Class 10 board exams. My school fee of 12,000 for the year is due. The teachers told me that they would not allow me to complete my exams if my fee was not cleared by the end of this week. I informed my father about it and he promised to send the money by Friday. My life is ruined. I have two younger sisters. How will my family manage everything?” said Yadav’s son Shan Suraj, 16.

“My brother is survived by his wife and four children. He was the only earning member. I run a tea stall in the village and it will be hard to manage two families with my meager income,” said Hari Shankar, Kripa’s brother.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Karn Pratap Singh has been writing on crime, policing, and issues of safety in Delhi for almost a decade. He covers high-intensity spot news, including terror strikes, serial blasts and security threats in the national capital.

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