Bihar: 5 killed, 30 injured in blast at illegal Nalanda firecracker unit, CM orders probe

A two-member team comprising Patna divisional commissioner and deputy inspector general (central range) has been formed to conduct the inquiry.

india Updated: Mar 23, 2018 17:07 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Patna
Firecracker factory,Bihar,Nalanda
Five people were killed and 30 others injured in an explosion at an illegal firecracker unit in Bihar’s Nalanda district. (ANI Photo)

Five people were killed and 30 others injured in an explosion at an illegal firecracker unit in Bihar’s Nalanda district late Thursday night, police said.

Expressing grief over the incident, chief minister Nitish Kumar ordered an inquiry into the incident and issued instructions for providing adequate medical assistance to the injured.

A two-member team, comprising Patna divisional commissioner Anand Kishor and deputy inspector general (central range) Rajesh Kumar, has been formed to conduct the inquiry.

The explosion occurred around 10.30pm at a house in Khasganj village from where a man, identified as Mohamad Sarfaraz, allegedly ran the illegal firecracker unit. He also sustained injuries in the blast and undergoing treatment.

The cause of the blast is being investigated.

The police said Sarfaraz used to live in the house in Sohsarai police station area, 76 km southeast of state capital Patna, as a tenant.

The deceased have been identified as Sarfaraz’s two daughters — one-month-old Sumera and three-year-old Taniq Fatima—three-year-old son Sartaz and sister Shaista. The fifth victim has been identified as Munna Pandit, 28.

The police said about 30 people were injured as the explosion damaged many structures in the crowded residential locality. The seriously injured had been admitted to Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH), they added.

The police said a bomb disposal team had also confirmed that an illegal firecracker unit was running from the house.

“India has a huge demand for firecrackers and it has gone up ahead of the Ram Navami festival which will be celebrated on March 25,” the police said.

“The blast site has been cordoned off and we have sought assistance from the forensic team to ascertain the exact cause of the explosion as well as the nature of explosives,” Nalanda district magistrate Thiyagrajan SM said.

Sarfaraz’s another minor son Mohammad Ejaj, who was injured in the blast, told reporters at PMCH that his father was trying to light an incense stick when inflammable material stored inside caught fire and exploded. Almost at the same time, an LPG cylinder also exploded in the neighbouring house, he added.

Locals said that Sarfaraz had hired the house on rent from where he was running the units of ‘Sayed Fireworks’ and ‘Hanuman’ brand firecrackers. They also claimed that more than 12 people had died in the blast. But the police did not confirm the figure.

“I live about 200 metres away from the factory and the explosion shook my house. On Friday morning, we found raw materials, wrappers, ropes and other things scattered on the roof of my house. More than five houses, including a three-storied building, have been damaged,” said Mohammad Irfan, 62.

Mohamamd Adil, 54, said the villagers had been complaining to the local police about the illegal factory for the last four years but to no avail.

The police, however, denied receiving any such complaint.

“I have checked with the local police station. There has been no such complaint,” said Nalanda superintendent of police Sudhir Kumar Podika.

He said the station house officer (SHO) of Khasganj, Sher Singh Yadav, had been suspended for his failure to check the illegal activity.

An FIR had been registered against Sarfaraz for allegedly running the illegal firecracker-manufacturing unit in a densely-populated locality, Podika added.

Meanwhile, Opposition leaders have called for an inquiry by a central investigating agency into the blast. “The factory did not come up in one day. It is impossible that the police didn’t know about it. We don’t trust the Bihar police. A probe by CBI is a must,” said RJD legislator Bhai Birendra.

First Published: Mar 23, 2018 10:36 IST