Death toll in Surat fire tragedy climbed to 22 on Saturday, as several students are critical and battling for their lives in various hospitals in the city. The deceased include 18 girls in the age group of 16-19 and four teenaged boys.
According to police, five persons died for injuries they sustained after they fell on the ground after jumping from the top floor while remaining died of severe burn injuries as the entire top floor gutted into the fire.
The police lodged FIR against the builder and arrested Bhargav Butani, owner of the coaching class in Takshashila Arcade in Surat.
“We have arrested Bhargav Butani, who was running the coaching centre without any permission from any authority,” Surat Police Commissioner Satish Sharma told media persons on Saturday.
Mr. Sharma added that the probe has been handed over to the city crime branch considering its urgency and magnitude of the incident.
The other two persons named in the FIR are — Harshul Vekaria and Jignesh Paliwal — both builders, are absconding. An FIR has been registered against them for culpable homicide.
Moreover, Municipal Commissioner M. Thennarasan cracked the whip and suspended two senior officers of the fire department for negligence.
S.K. Acharya, Deputy Chief Fire officer of Surat Municipal Corporation and Kirti Modh has been suspended with immediate effect for their negligence in duty.
According to sources, the same building issued notice for non compliance of fire safety norms a few months back but the fire division officials did not pursue the notice and the building was not sealed.
“We have launched a major drive to ensure that all high rise buildings in the city have proper fire safety systems installed in them,” Mr. Thennasaran said.
From Delhi, the national human rights commission (NHRC) has issued a notice to the Gujarat government, seeking report on the gruesome incident that claimed 22 lives in Surat. In a suo moto action, the rights body has called for a detailed report from the Chief Secretary regarding the incident.
Meanwhile, as the results for class 12 were announced on Saturday, It was found that three of the deceased — Yashvi Kevadiya, Mansi Varsani and Hasti Surani — had appeared for class 12 exams of the Gujarat board and passed.
Across Gujarat, the state authorities issued public notice to shut down coaching centres and tuition classes till proper audit of fire safety mechanism is not done in all cities and district headquarters.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has directed the administration to undertake comprehensive audit of fire safety systems in all hospitals, schools, high rise buildings, cinema halls and shopping malls and markets.