Relatives of man killed in Kirari fire allege foul play

Relatives of man killed in Kirari fire allege foul play

Police and media persons stand outside a three-storey residential-cum-commercial building where a fire broke out, in outer Delhi's Kirari area, Monday, Dec. 23, 2019. At least nine people, including three children, were killed in the incident. (PTI Photo)

The relatives of Udaykant Chaudhary, one of the nine people who died in a fire in the early hours of Monday, alleged foul play and asked the police for a fair investigation into the incident.

Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, the elder brother of Udaykant, said he was in his office when he came to know about the blaze.

"I was in my office when Udaykant called me for help. He said that someone had locked the gate of his house from outside. There was a fire and the smoke was coming inside the house and they are suffocating. Udaykant said 'Please save us or we will die here'," Vijay said.

The family said that Udaykant, who hailed from Bihar's Darbhanga district, was living in the flat for the last four years. He had lent Rs 2.5 lakh to his landlord who was taking the interest of the loan amount as rent.

However, police have ruled out any foul play in the incident.

The Delhi government announced Rs 10 lakh compensation to the next of kin of those who died in the Kirari fire. Health Minister Satyendra Jain said the government will also bear the expenses of the treatment for the injured and will give them Rs one lakh.

"The government has announced compensation, but it is nothing in view of the tragedy. I have lost my younger brother and his entire family. I just want the authorities to probe the matter in the best way and punish the guilty, if any," Vijay said.

On Friday, a massive fire ripped through the three-storey residential-cum-commercial building in outer Delhi's Kirari area, killing at least nine people, including three children, the second such incident in the national capital this month.

Nine fire tenders were deployed to control the blaze after a distress call was received at 12.30 am and the blaze was brought under control by 3.50 am.

Gopal Jha, a nephew of Udaykant, said that he met him last time on Sunday.

"On Sunday around 8 pm, he came to my house for some work. He told me that he was unhappy with his landlord and wanted to leave the flat. After a couple of hours, he rushed to his house when he got several calls to attend a function.

"Udaykant had lent Rs 2.5 lakh to his landlord and he was asking him to return the amount because he wanted to shift to another place, but he did not have the money for it," Gopal said.

Gopal claimed that he received a call from Udaykant after the fire broke out. The deceased claimed that somebody had locked his house from outside and asked Gopal to save them.

Udaykant's uncle Pankaj Chaudhary said that he had attended Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rally at the Ramlila Ground on Sunday afternoon.

"I received messages from Udaykant at 12.01 am. He was happy after attending Modi's rally and informed me through WhatsApp that the PM had told the people at Ramlila Ground. I've heard the claims of foul play and we want fair enquiry in the incident," Pankaj said.

Police have registered a case on Monday in connection with the incident under relevant sections of the IPC.

"I am his uncle and got to about the incident from Vijay. My relatives are saying that there is a conspiracy behind the incident and if it is true, then there should be a high-level investigation behind the fire," Chiranjeev Chaudhary said.

However, police said it appears that Udaykant Chaudhary, one of the deceased, had locked the gate of his house from inside and he died of asphyxia. Had he tried to escape through the balcony, the chances of survival would have been more.

No fire safety equipment was found in the building that housed a godown on the ground floor where clothes were kept. During preliminary investigation, it was found that the fire started on the ground floor and engulfed the upper storeys. A cylinder blast on the second floor caused a part of the building to collapse.

Locals and firefighters rescued three people. Pooja, 24, her three-year-old daughter Aaradhya and niece Saumya, 10, a police official said.

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