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Four locked workers choke to death in Ludhiana factory fire

Short circuit is suspected to be the cause of the fire at the unit that was locked from outside, giving the workers no option to escape.

punjab Updated: Oct 11, 2018 09:49 IST
Harsimran Singh Batra
Harsimran Singh Batra
Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
Ludhiana,fire at a factory,asphyxia
The fire broke out in the wee hours of Wednesday, while the workers were working on the second floor of the building. (HT Photo)

Four workers died of asphyxia after a fire broke out at a four-storeyed hosiery unit, Kalra Knitwear, in Street No. 1 of Kalyan Nagar near Kamla Lohtia SD College in Ludhiana on Wednesday. Short circuit is suspected to be the cause of the fire at the unit that was locked from outside, giving the workers no option to escape.

The victims have been identified as Mohammed Azaad, 18, of Bihar; Satya Prakash, 37, of UP; Mohammed Rabaan, 19, of Bihar and Dhananjay Pandey, 40, of Bihar. Dhananjay and Satya Prakash were permanent employees, while Mohammed Azaad and Rabaan were daily wagers.

Police have booked the unit owner, Sumit Kalra, for culpable homicide not amounting to murder (Section 304 of the IPC) as the unit was found locked from outside, giving the labourers no option to escape. The factory lacked fire safety arrangements and NOC from the fire department as well.

As per the information, the labourers, who were working on the second floor, spotted the fire on the ground floor at about 4am and called their employer Sumit Kalra, who alerted the fire brigade. Kalra reached the spot at about 4:20am and opened the shutter of the unit. Kalra and nearby residents tried to enter the premises, but couldn’t due to flames and smoke.

Fire-fighters found the bodies of the labourers on the third floor. There was no ventilation in the building.

Division 4 station house officer Surinder Kumar said Sumit Kalra was booked on the complaint of Dhananjay’s brother-in-law Divakar Kumar Pandey. However, no arrest has been made so far.

Fire safety officials Maninder Singh and Navrang Singh said after receiving the call at 4:25am, five fire tenders were rushed to the spot and the flames were controlled in around one-and-half hours. Fire fighters also had to break the shutters on upper floors to douse the flames.

Joint commissioner, MC, Kulpreet Singh, said they were checking the record of the building and action will be taken against the owner as no NOC was taken from fire department. He said they were also checking whether the owner had the permission to run the hosiery unit.

Deputy commissioner Pradeep Agrawal, commissioner of police Sukhchain Singh Gill, mayor Balkar Sandhu and MLA Surinder Dawar also visited the spot.

Victim made distress call to kin

In his police complaint, Divakar stated that he went to meet Dhananjay at 10pm on Tuesday, but couldn’t see him factory was locked from outside. Divakar said he received a phone call from Dhananjay at 4:49am that the unit has caught fire. “When I reached the spot, fire fighters were dousing the flames and bodies of all the four were found soonafter. It is due to the negligence of the owner that all the four workers died,” Divakar said in his complaint.

First Published: Oct 10, 2018 09:40 IST