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Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

Arpit Palace fire: Hotel owner ‘hiding’ in Qatar, was booked in forgery case by CBI

According to police, the licence of Hotel Arpit Palace, where a fire on Tuesday morning killed 17 people, was issued in the name of RK Goel’s brother since the former was booked in a forgery case in 2008.

delhi Updated: Feb 15, 2019 12:15 IST
Anvit Srivastava
Anvit Srivastava
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Police said the  management of Hotel Arpit Palace told them that they have the licence to run a guest house but have not been able to produce it so far.
Police said the management of Hotel Arpit Palace told them that they have the licence to run a guest house but have not been able to produce it so far. (Biplov Bhuyan/HT Photo )

The Delhi police on Thursday issued a lookout notice against the owner of the Karol Bagh hotel, where a massive fire early on Tuesday morning killed 17 people. The police suspect that RK Goel was hiding in Qatar. They said Goel had been booked by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in 2008 in a forgery case.

The licence of Hotel Arpit Palace was issued in the name of Goel’s brother, Shardendu.

“The CBI had even filed a charge sheet in the forgery case against Goel. We are yet to gather details of the case. We have learnt that this was the reason why the licence was not issued in Goel or his wife’s name. We have found that RK Goel is in Qatar and we have issued a lookout notice in his name,” said an officer, requesting not to be named.

The police have not been able to contact either of the two men – Shardendu or RK Goel. Police said the hotel management told them that they have the licence to run a guest house but have not been able to produce it so far. A crime branch team led by additional commissioner of police (crime) Rajiv Ranjan and deputy commissioner of police (crime) Rajesh Deo inspected the hotel on Thursday.

The Delhi Police had earlier said that the licence of hotel was issued in the name of Shardendu, a resident of Karol Bagh. The police, however, said that they were yet to reach out to the owner, who is on the run.

3D laser technology

The police said they will use 3D laser technology, a first for the city police, to recreate the scene at the hotel before the fire engulfed it. Officers said it would help police understand what led to the blaze and point out violations by the hotel staff.

DCP Deo said, “This has never been done before. We have roped in an expert agency for assistance. This will give us a 3D map of the hotel on which we can locate from where the fire started and how it spread through the building.”

During the early hours on Tuesday, a suspected short-circuit in the air conditioner installed inside a room on the first floor sparked a fire that spread across five floors of Hotel Arpit Palace, trapping majority of the 60 guests inside their rooms. While at least 30 were rescued by firefighters, 17 succumbed to the burns or asphyxiation. A woman from Myanmar, an IRS officer and a cook at the hotel jumped off the building to escape. But only the Myanmar tourist survived.

The probe of the incident was transferred to the Delhi Police’s crime branch the same night.

Investigators have found that a number of rules were flouted by the hotel staff. An officer said they have found that 60 people were staying in the hotel at the time of incident, however, many had not made entries into the visitors register.

“It has also been spotted that the wiring in the hotel were old and not maintained. The power load was way beyond the capacity and it could have possibly led to the short circuit. However, since the AC did not have heating option, police are checking if the guests in that room switched it on or not,” the officer said.

He added that the forensics teams have not found any flammable material or explosive which prima facie suggests that there was no sabotage behind the fire.

First Published: Feb 15, 2019 12:15 IST

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