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Owners of Alipur factory knew about fire hazards, says Delhi Police charge sheet | Latest News Delhi

Two months after a massive blaze at an illegal paints manufacturing factory at Alipur in outer Delhi led to the death of 11 people, the Delhi Police in their charge sheet have booked three people for culpable homicide, stating that the factory owners “knowingly” made people work in a confined space that was susceptible to catch fire.

An NDRF team at the site of the illegal paint manufacturing factory on February 16, a day after a fire in the building led to the death of 11 people. (Raj K Raj/HT Photo)

On February 15, a massive blaze broke out in the single-storey building, and the fire quickly intensified due to inflammable material stored inside and outside the factory, before spreading to at least 15 houses and shops within a 50-feet radius.

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On Monday, the police filed a 300-page charge sheet in the case, naming three people — land owner Raj Rani, factory owner Akhil Jain, and Jain’s father Ashok Jain.

DCP Ravi Kumar Singh (outer north) confirmed that the charge sheet was filed against the three under Indian Penal Code sections related to culpable homicide (not amounting to murder), mischief causing damage and act done by several persons with common intention.

Incidentally, Ashok Jain was one of the 11 people who was killed in the fire.

Police said that his name was not mentioned in the initial first information report (FIR), but was later added to the charge sheet as he and his son “forced” factory workers and electricians to work in the presence of “highly toxic” and inflammable chemicals.

“The accused had been running the factory illegally for at least 20 years. They didn’t have any licence from fire clearances in place… There was no safety for the workers who used to work behind locked doors and windows,” an investigating officer, citing the charge sheet, said.

“We have booked them for culpable homicide because it was not negligence. Despite being aware of the risks, they knowingly didn’t take any precautions. The owners knew the blast could happen,” the officer added, asking not to be named.

The charge sheet details the paints and chemicals found inside the factory, and also has the testimonies of more than 49 witnesses, including survivors, neighbours, and the families of the deceased.

“The witnesses all said the same thing — that the single-storeyed factory had no ventilation, and workers would work behind shut doors and windows because the owners were running the factory illegally in a congested residential area. The name of the landlady Raj Rani has been included because she knew about the illegal factory but continued supporting the accused,” said another investigating officer.

The charge sheet also notes that DNA tests were conducted to identify the bodies.

A third officer said that all the bodies were identified within two-three weeks, adding that the deceased were all migrant labourers from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, who had been working at the factory for years.

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