Mundka fire: Building owner arrested

  • | Monday | 16th May, 2022

New Delhi, May 15 (PTI) The owner of a four-storey building in outer Delhi"s Mundka where a massive fire claimed the lives of at least 27 people was arrested on Sunday, two days after the incident, police said here. Manish Lakra, 35, the building’s owner who was at large since the incident, was arrested from Ghevra Mod, they said."We received information that Lakra was going towards Haridwar in Uttarakhand. We laid a trap and nabbed him from Ghevra Mod after conducting multiple raids in Delhi and Haryana," Sameer Sharma, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Outer), said.Lakra used to live on the fourth floor of the commercial building. He lived in a two-room-kitchen house with his mother, wife and two children. He managed to escape to the adjacent building along with his family members when the fire broke out, police said. During interrogation, Lakra told police that he was sleeping in his house and when he woke up, he got a foul smell and the family spotted dense smoke engulfing the building."They (Lakra and family) realised that a fire had broken out in the building following which he called up his relatives for help. However, they managed to escape through the adjacent building,” a senior police official said. Lakra is the owner of the building but role of his wife and mother will also be ascertained, he added.While Lakra was at large, he had switched off his mobile phone and was roaming around alone in areas of Delhi and Haryana, the official said."He also went to a Hanuman temple in Haryana where he slept and destroyed his mobile phone so that police cannot trace him. He had already got some money arranged for himself to escape to Haridwar as he had got the message from his relatives about police trying to trace him," he said.Presently, Lakra’s brother, wife and mother, along with children, are missing, he added. The police have recovered 27 bodies so far and identified 14 of them as women and six as men so far. Nineteen people are still unaccounted for, police said, adding that 17 people were injured in the fire incident. The building belonged to Lakra""s father, who died in 2015, leaving it to him, they said. A CCTV camera and router manufacturing and assembling company, in whose office the fire is suspected to have started, had been on the premises since 2017. Its owners -- Harish and Vijay Goel, who are brothers, have already been arrested. A motivational programme was underway on the second floor of the building when the fire broke out. A father-son duo from Australia was conducting the session, the police said. The programme was organised by the company and all its employees were present. “Many people were trapped inside the building and could not come out as there was a lot of fire and smoke and had a single entry and exit point," DCP Sharma said. There was a shop on the ground floor of the building while the first, second and third floors housed the office of Cofe Impex Pvt Ltd which imports parts of CCTV cameras and routers and employed around 100 people, the senior police officer said. Strict action will be taken against all those whose faults will be reflected during the inquiry be it concerned agencies or any individual, he said. Letters will be written to all those agencies, including MCD, DSIIDC and others, for verification of documents. "This has been a major fire tragedy, so involvement of each agency will be verified minutely and all of them will be questioned and their culpability will be fixed and strict legal action will be taken," the senior officer said. Preliminary inquiry suggests that the door of the gatekeeper was open as per his statement and DVR has been seized from there and it has been further handed over to the Forensic Science Laboratory to scan through the CCTV to verify if the doors were opened or locked, police said. The unidentified bodies are preserved in Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital mortuary in Mangolpuri, they said.Out of the 27 bodies, eight have been identified and their post-mortems have been conducted. For remaining bodies, police are collecting DNA samples for identification, the police said.Samples have been collected for already identified eight bodies which will also be sent for DNA profiling to be completely sure about the identity of the each individual, they said.Goel brothers were rescued with the help of public, firefighters and police. About their missing father, DNA sample has been collected from his body and that of his family members to match and ascertain if he is among those who are yet to be unidentified. The fire at the building broke out on Friday evening. The building did not have any fire NOC nor tenant verification was done, police said, adding further investigation is being carried out. PTI AMP/NIT KVK KVK

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