The Shivaji Nagar police on Saturday arrested two brothers whom they claimed were responsible for the Deonar dumping ground fires on January 28 and March 20. They were identified as Atique Ahmed Khan and Rafique Ahmad Khan, residents of the Rafiq Nagar slums in Shivaji Nagar. They have been remanded in police custody until Monday.
The police claimed the two men employed at least 60 rag-pickers, who burnt garbage at the dump to salvage metal scrap. They said that while Atique used to dump garbage at the landfill, his brother Rafique would dump building construction debris there.
The total number of arrests over the Deonar fire now stands at 15. All the arrests have been made on the basis the statements of more than 25 rag pickers, who have been made witnesses in the case.
“The brothers used to lure rag pickers with money and pay them anywhere from Rs 200 to Rs 500, depending on the quantity of metal they salvaged. The rag pickers would find wires and other items containing metal by burning garbage,” said Balasaheb Jadhav, senior inspector at Shivaji Nagar police station.
The police said the two brothers have an office near the dump, from where they have been operating for the past nine years.
“We arrested the masterminds of the Deonar landfill fire late on Friday and interrogating them,” said Sangramsinh Nishandar, deputy commissioner of police (zone VI).
Investigators will now question the brothers with those arrested earlier to learn more about their modus operandi and find out who came up with the idea of burning garbage to salvage metal scrap.