New Delhi, Mar 21: The Delhi Police filed a charge sheet in a city court against the owner of a firecracker factory in northwest Delhi, where 17 people were killed in a massive blaze earlier this year. Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Gagandeep Singh, before whom the police filed the document, took cognisance of the charge sheet and summoned factory owner Manoj Jain, co-owner Lalit Goyal and five others as accused before it on April 4.
A fire had broken out in the storage unit on the ground floor of the two-storey building in Bawana area on January 20 and engulfing the entire structure. Of the 17 killed, 10 were women. A man and woman were also injured in the incident.
Besides Manoj and Lalit, five other persons named as accused in the 800-page charge sheet are Surjeet Goyal, Girish Rathore, Sangeeta Vijay Yadav, Uma Mittal and Brij Bhushan Sood. Surjeet and Girish were business partners of Manoj and Lalit in another factory in Bawana, while accused Uma had rented out the factory premise to Manoj, the police said, adding that accused Sangeeta had provided chemical products including acid to Manoj.
While Manoj and Lalit are in judicial custody since January 31, Surjeet and Girish were earlier granted bail after being arrested, while Sangeeta, Uma and Brij were never arrested. There is sufficient material against the accused under various offences to be summoned by the court, the charge sheet said.
All the seven persons have been accused of the offences under sections 285 (negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible matter), 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others), 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and relevant provisions of the Explosives Act, Poison Act and Juvenile Justice Act.
The police, while referring to the statement of some witnesses, including the labourers who worked in the factory, alleged that Manoj and Lalit manufactured Holi Gulal fire crackers with explosive materials "without following safety norms". It has been alleged by a factory worker that there was only one entry and exit gate in the premises and there was no fire-fighting equipment there. It said that about 511 cartons of pop crackers were lying on the ground floor and some finished pop crackers in the open were kept along with 10 packing machines on the ground floor and first floor. "The crackers were lying scattered on all the floors and burst on mere pressure," it said.
The police said that as per the post mortem report, all the 17 victims died due to a combined effect of asphyxia and shock consequent to burn injuries. It said a supplementary charge sheet may be filed in due course as a no-objection certificate from Delhi Pollution Control Committee to destroy crackers stored in another factory is awaited, along with the FSL reports.
The police has named 84 witnesses in the charge sheet and given call detail records (CDR) of all the accused saying " it is apparent that all the accused persons were in touch with each other". Earlier, advocate Rishipal Singh, representing some victims, had told the court that as per the statements of injured victims Roop Prakash and Sunita Devi, Lalit was present at the spot when the incident took place, contrary to the claims of the accused. He had said that the accused were running the factory without any licence and the explosive materials were procured from outside Delhi.