Politics overshadows blaze tragedy

Even before the fire personnel could douse the flames at a market complex here, political parties entered into a blame game, holding rivals responsible for the tragedy.

State Fire Minister Javed Khan said the Left Front was to be blamed for the accident since it did not crack down on such “illegal” buildings during its 34-year reign over the state.

“These are all unauthorised, illegal markets and they have come up during the 34 years of Left rule. Hence, they cannot deny their responsibility,” Khan said.

“The Trinamool government spent the last year and a half inspecting many schools, colleges and hospitals and made at least 100 arrests. We were on the verge of issuing an FIR against the owner of this market as well.”

Leader of the Opposition Surya Kanta Mishra was quick to dismiss the charges.
“We will ask for an independent inquiry. This is not the time for blame game. If anyone has done that, they have done an irresponsible job,” Mishra said. Even Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sniffed sabotage and assured of strong action against the guilty.  

However, the debate took an ugly turn when the party’s rebel MLA Sikha Mitra alleged that no action was taken even after she warned the administration of a possible fire.

“I had written a letter to the chief minister as well as the mayor stating that area was so congested that in case of an accident, fire tenders won’t be able to access the place,” Mitra said.

“I had warned that a tragedy could happen any day but there was no response. People came to me, seeking proper fire fighting arrangements in the market, but the administration did not pay any heed to my words,” she added.

Union minister Deepa Das Munshi of the Congress demanded a judicial probe while MP Abdul Mannan said the compensation of Rs 2 lakh was not sufficient.

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