Kolkata: Blame game starts after high-rise fire

A case of negligence under Section 304A of the Indian Penal Code was lodged and Kolkata police started a probe. The fire department and the railways ordered separate probes into the incident.
Firefighters and locals stand and watching fire after it broke out on the 13th floor of a multi-storeyed building and housing offices of the Railways, on Strand Road in Kolkata on Monday. (ANI Photo)
Firefighters and locals stand and watching fire after it broke out on the 13th floor of a multi-storeyed building and housing offices of the Railways, on Strand Road in Kolkata on Monday. (ANI Photo)
Updated on Mar 10, 2021 02:07 AM IST
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ByHT Correspondent, Kolkata

A day after nine people were killed in a fire on the 13th floor of the Eastern Railway’s office in central Kolkata, a political blame game started with the BJP and the TMC accusing each other days ahead of the assembly elections in West Bengal.

Even governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, who visited the spot, blamed the Mamata Banerjee-led state government. A case of negligence under Section 304A of the Indian Penal Code was lodged and Kolkata police started a probe. The fire department and the railways ordered separate probes into the incident.

By Tuesday afternoon, authorities could identify all the nine bodies which were found on the top floor of the building.

“I salute the bravery of 3 Railway personnel, including RPF Constable Sanjay Sahni, Dy Chief Comm. Mgr. Partha Sarathi Mondal & Sr Technician Sudip Das, along with 5 firefighters & a police ASI, who laid down their lives to stop fire at Eastern Railways Strand road office, Kolkata,” Piyush Goyal, Union railway minister, tweeted.

On Monday night Banerjee said, “The property belongs to the railways, it’s their responsibility but they were unable to provide a map of building. I don’t want to do politics over the tragedy but no one from the railways has come here,” she said.

BJP leaders hit back with a alleging that there had been no improvement in firefighting over the past decade. “WB needs a proactive disaster management policy, equip local bodies with fire-fighting equipment and put in appropriate protocols... Pishi has failed Bengal,” tweeted Amit Malviya, BJP’s IT cell head.

Meanwhile governor Dhankhar, who has acrimonious relations with the Banerjee administration, blamed the TMC government after visiting the spot.

Preliminary investigations revealed that all the nine persons who died used the elevator.

“Nearly all (seven) the bodies were lying inside the elevator. One or two were just outside the elevator. They had used the elevator to climb up,” Sujit Bose, state fire minister told media persons late on Monday night.

Later two more bodies were found inside a second elevator.

Banerjee announced compensation of 10 lakh for each victim and a government job for one family member.

The Prime Minister’s Office also announced compensation. “Saddened by the loss of lives due to the fire tragedy in Kolkata. In this hour of sadness, my thoughts are with the bereaved families...” tweeted PM Narendra Modi.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2021