Ghaziabad building collapse: Firecrackers factory owner, stockist arrested
Three children were killed in the building collapse triggered by an LPG cylinder explosion on Saturday, while four are still hospitalised
The Ghaziabad police said on Monday that they arrested a 44-year-old man from Farrukhnagar for supplying material used in the manufacture of illegal firecrackers to a man whose rented building collapsed after an explosion on Saturday morning in Loni’s Roop Nagar, killing three child labourers and injuring four women.
On Sunday, the police had confirmed that the building housed materials for making illegal fireworks. The police had previously registered a first information report (FIR) on their own initiative against the building’s tenant, Mohammad Shariq, 22, who allegedly manufactured illegal firecrackers and employed women and children in the process. Shariq was arrested on Sunday evening.
Shariq was booked at Loni police station under Indian Penal Code sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide), 336 (rash and negligent acts to endanger human life), and 427 (causing damage), as well as levying provisions of the Explosives Act.
“After extensive questioning, Shariq revealed that he obtained the material for the illegal manufacture of firecrackers from a stockist, Vikas Goel, 45, who is linked to the nearby fireworks manufacturing hub in Farrukhnagar. On that basis, our teams raided Goel’s premises and recovered a large amount of material used in the illegal manufacture of fireworks. Goel was arrested on Monday and booked under the provisions of the Explosives Act in the same FIR registered against Shariq,” said Vivek Chandra Yadav, deputy commissioner of police (rural).
According to the suo motu FIR filed by the Loni police, an LPG cylinder exploded during work at Shariq’s rented building, which set the firecrackers and explosives on fire, resulting in severe burns and other injuries to the people employed at the site.
Seven people were injured, identified as Shaista Parveen, 36, and her two daughters, Alisha, 15, and Alina, 14, Noori, 18, Geeta Devi, 30, Mohammad Imran, 15, and Mehwis Khatoon, 38.
Alisha, Alina, and Imran died on Saturday, while the other four are still under treatment at GTB Hospital in Delhi.
“A large number of burnt firecrackers were discovered at the site, and it appears that Shariq employed children and unskilled women for the illegal manufacture of firecrackers. He was manufacturing firecrackers without a licence, skilled labour, or any safety measures,” according to the FIR.
Farrukhnagar, which is only 5-6km from Roop Nagar, was once home to approximately 200 different traditional and labour-intensive manufacturing units that sold conventional fireworks before introducing green crackers. District officials did not renew the units’ licences in response to legal directives regarding conventional fireworks, which contribute to high pollution levels.
In October 2018, the Supreme Court ordered that only “green firecrackers” with low emissions and sound levels within the allowable range be sold and used. The court also established a time limit for setting off fireworks on Diwali — from 8pm to 10pm.
The court’s orders came in response to rising air pollution in Delhi and the National Capital Region.
Since then, the units in Farrukhnagar have been closed.
“Many of these unit owners are believed to have relocated to nearby areas. Goel is one such stockist who is suspected of supplying the raw materials for fireworks to a number of people, including Shariq. Our teams are attempting to obtain additional information from Goel to apprehend those who purchased material from him. Shariq had obtained materials from Goel and had been manufacturing illegal firecrackers for the past month,” said DCP Yadav.
According to police officers associated with the case, Goel owned many shops and business establishments in Farrukhnagar and was stocking the material used to manufacture fireworks.
Goel also told police that he obtained such material from a significant source in Haryana, according to the investigators, who added that an investigation is currently underway.