Delhi fire: Owner, co-owner, manager sent to custody

Delhi fire: Owner, co-owner, manager sent to custody

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A Delhi court has sent to 14-day judicial custody the property owner, his brother-in-law and the co-owner, and the manager of the four-storey building housing illegal manufacturing units in north Delhi's congested Anaj Mandi area where 43 people were killed in a massive fire.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Arul Verma sent Rehan, Suhail and Furkan to judicial custody till January 4 next year, after police did not seek their custodial interrogation in the case.

Police arrested the three and registered a case under sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 285 (negligent conduct with respect to fire) of the Indian Penal Code. The case was transferred to the Crime Branch.

The court had earlier sent Rehan and Furkan to two-weeks' judicial custody.

Police had earlier told the court that initial investigation has shown there were other accused and custodial interrogation of the duo was required to identify and ascertain their role. They had said factories operated at the property without clearance from authorities.

Police had said there were three owners of the building and they sublet the property to different people whose role are also to be investigated.

"It is a sensitive case. Most of the deceased were from faraway places. The names and addresses of all the deceased have also not been identified yet. It is a lengthy process. Rehan and Furkan are childhood friends and they are doing business together since 2003," police submitted to the court.

The counsel for the accused had opposed their remand, saying they have given all the required documents to the police.

The Delhi government had ordered a magisterial probe into the tragedy, the worst fire accident in the national capital since the 1997 Uphaar Cinema blaze that claimed 59 lives, and sought a report within seven days.

Almost all the deceased were migrant labourers hailing from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Police and fire department officials said many of the fatalities occurred due to suffocation as the people were sleeping when the fire started at around 5 am on the second floor of the building.

While 43, including one minor, died, 16 were injured. Two fire department personnel were injured while carrying out rescue work, officials said.

Those awakened by the fire, suspected by officials to have been triggered by a short-circuit, had to struggle to escape as the exit routes were partially blocked and several windows were found sealed. 

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