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Karol Bagh hotel fire: Arpit Palace ignored safety of its guests, says FIR

The FIR in the case of fire in Karol Bagh’s Hotel Arpit Palace said the hotel ignored the safety of its guests for its business.

delhi Updated: Feb 14, 2019 11:02 IST
Shiv Sunny
Shiv Sunny
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The damaged rooftop of Hotel Arpit Palace in Karol Bagh  where a massive fire broke on Feb 12, 2019.
The damaged rooftop of Hotel Arpit Palace in Karol Bagh where a massive fire broke on Feb 12, 2019. (Biplov Bhuyan/HT Photo )
         

The management of the Hotel Arpit Palace knew that the use of inflammable materials in the building could endanger the safety of its guests, and their inability to make any safety arrangements resulted in the death of 17 people, read the first information report (FIR) that listed six lapses inside the five-storey property.

For “their business”, the “licensee and the management” of the hotel had ignored the safety of its guests, said the complainant, sub-inspector Jagmal Singh, in the FIR.

“There was no panic alarm on any of the floors or in the restaurants of the hotel,” the FIR read.

The FIR pointed out that there was only one emergency exit and that was found closed at the time of the incident. “Not a single person could escape through the emergency exit,” sub-inspector’s statement read.

“There was no proper signage to guide the guests to the emergency exit,” the FIR further said.

The FIR said a kitchen operating from the restaurant rooftop, and another in the basement were “unauthorised”.

The complainant particularly noted the extensive use of plastic and other inflammable material on the walls and partitions and on the “temporary structure erected” on the rooftop. According to fire officers, the combustible material included wooden panels that burnt quickly and led to the quick spread of smoke in the building. The FIR showed that the call to the police control room was received at 4.43 am on Tuesday. “Hotel mein aag lag gayi hai (there is a fire in a hotel),” the caller said.

The FIR said that 60 guests were occupying 35 of the 46 rooms of the hotel. Apart from the guests, there were about a dozen staffers too.

“The eyewitnesses and the injured people were very frightened and were not in a position to describe the facts of the events,” the complainant said about the scene at the various hospitals.

Owner on the run

The hotel’s owner, Shardendu Goel, who lives in Karol Bagh’s Bank Street, continued to remain on the run, police said. “People who know him say that he is out of the country. But we are taking the claims with a pinch of salt,” said an officer at the crime branch to which the investigations have been transferred.

Police said they have issued a notice to the owner. Until he is caught, the police will have to stitch together the details of the lapses from the hotel’s general manager, Rajender Singh, 45, and 21-year-old manager, Vikas Kumar.

“We have them in our custody for two days and will know more after questioning them,” said Rajesh Deo, deputy commissioner of police (crime branch).

Kumar had been the night shift in-charge and was allegedly inside the hotel when the mishap occurred. Singh, meanwhile, has claimed that he was away and arrived only on receiving a call about the blaze.

Police said the duo denied any wrongdoing and said they were only doing their jobs.

A team of the crime branch visited the hotel premises on Wednesday to carry out investigation. As for the cause of the fire, they will have to await the report of the forensics lab and that could take a few weeks. For now, they have used ply boards to seal the restaurant and bar on the ground.

A rostrum behind where the bar’s staff would usually welcome guests now has two policemen taking positions to keep away curious onlookers venturing too close to the hotel’s entrance.

Read | Why fire at Karol Bagh’s Arpit Palace hotel claimed 17 lives?

First Published: Feb 14, 2019 11:02 IST