The even-handedness of the West Bengal government has come into question in the investigation of the AMRI fire, in which 91 persons died last month.
Questions are being raised in business circles why the government has arrested seven directors and spared four. And, allegations of discrimination and bias against a particular community are coming up in the process.
The AMRI directors who are behind bars are SK Todi, Ravi Todi, Radheshyam Goenka, Dayanand Agarwal, Prashant Goenka and Manish Goenka. RS Agarwal is being treated at the SSKM Hospital after arrest.
The government has charged them with culpable homicide not amounting to murder (section 304 of IPC), but it is being speculated why the administration has spared some other directors including chairman SN Banerjee (government nominee), Ashim Kumar Das (government nominee), managing director Dr Mani Chhetri and independent director Dr Pronab Dasgupta.
The Ficci statement on Monday triggered the debate. "Those who are not responsible for day-to-day operations of any business should be released immediately," it said.
Dipak Jalan, president, Merchants' Chamber of Commerce, told Hindustan Times on Friday: "We fully endorse the view that Ficci has expressed ... Those who have been arrested were not in charge of fire safety at the establishment and should not be treated the way they have been so far."
Alka Bangur, president, Calcutta Chamber of Commerce, said: "If my driver rams my car into somebody while I am sitting at the backseat, do I get arrested? Can I be responsible for his driving?"
The BJP in a statement to governor MK Narayanan said: "… All on the board who were in no way engaged in day-to-day administration should not be treated on the same scale. It is here that we feel the state government has treated (them) in an improper manner."