Police use lathis to ward off angry mob

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Kolkata, Jan 16 (UNI) Police lathicharged an angry mob and Rapid Action Force(RAF) jawans were deployed in the city's Burrabazar area today after local traders attacked a team of Kolkata Municipal Corporation employees, who tried to demolish the burnt out Nandaram market.

Even as the devastating fire was extinguished following a 99-hour battle, tension ran high in the area when the traders clashed with KMC men, pulling down the dangerous portions of the building.

Police immediately swung into action using baton to disperse the irate mob.

Meanwhile, CPI(M) Polit Bureau members Sitaram Yechury and Brinda Karat visited the place and talked to the affected people.

Fire Services Minister Pratim Chatterjee said the blaze had been fully put out, but water was still being sprayed to cool down the interiors of the gutted multi-storeyed building.

While the state Government had already identified few top floors of the building as being 'illegal', West Bengal Fire Serives Principal Officer Gopal Bhattacharya alleged that the entire 13-storied building had been used as a godown.

The Congress demonstrated before the State secretariat Writers' Buildings against the inadequacies of the fire department to effectively control the blaze.

The State Government yesterday set up two inquiry committees to probe the cause of the fire and the legality of the constructions in the congested Burrabazar area.

The fire was extinguished after a long hydraulic ladder was brought in Monday night from Haldia, about 125 km from Kolkata.

A 42 metre sky-lift ladder of the fire department was earlier engaged in vain to fight the enormous blaze as a 30-member team of Army firemen had joined the operation.

About 4,000 shops of plastics, polythene and other inflammable materials besides eight buildings were gutted.

While there was no official estimation of losses so far, local traders said it could be in terms of hundreds of crores.

Former Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhwat, besides a team of Rajasthan Ministers, MPs and MLAs visited the area and to study the situation in the area, dominated by the business community from Rajasthan.

The fire started in a wholesale market building in the small hours of Saturday last and spread fast to engulf the adjoining buildings in the congested areas. It was not clear how the fire began.

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