A 64-year-old labourer was killed when two plastic bags in which he was carrying about 50 kg of firecrackers exploded, in Old Delhi’s Lahori Gate area on Tuesday morning, police said. Four people were injured in the incident.
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The explosion triggered panic in the area, where a mosque is also located, but police ruled out any terror angle. A case has been registered against an Old Delhi-based firecrackers trader, who has three licensed shops in Sadar Bazar. Police said they are currently looking for the trader.
“We have registered an FIR at Lahori Gate police station against Mukthar Ahmad. Preliminary investigation revealed that the deceased, Motalip Mirza, had collected the bags from Ahmad’s godown in Gali Zakaria Mohalla Fatak Hawas Khana. Ahmad had asked Mirza, his employee, to deliver the bags to one of his shops. Police found several similar bags in his godown,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (North district) Madhur Verma said.
Police said the incident took place at 10.40 am in Pattewali Gali when Mirza, a native of Murshidabad in West Bengal, kept the two plastic bags on the ground. “Prime facie it appears that the explosion took place due to the pressure in the bags. The large-scale damage is due to the quantity of the crackers. But forensic experts have informed police after examining the spot that there is a possibility the explosion could have been a result of fire,” police sources said.
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Two fire tenders that were rushed to the spot took time to reach as the area is congested and has narrow lanes. All five people were rushed to the hospital, where Mirza was declared brought dead. The others are recovering.
The incident was caught on CCTV installed in a nearby shop. The footage shows Mirza lose his balance as the bags appear too heavy. “The impact of the explosion was so powerful that windows were shattered and there was smoke all around. CCTV footage shows people screaming and running in the congested lanes of Naya Bazar, a wholesale market in Chandni Chowk,” a police officer said.
Police said Mirza had been working as a labourer in Old Delhi for the last 20 years. “We recovered plastic shells commonly used to make firecrackers from the spot, but still we need to figure out what the explosive substance inside those shells was. There is no crater at the spot, which means it was not a high-intensity explosion,” said S B K Singh, Special Commissioner of Police (Law and Order of North).
According to investigators, the firecrackers were made by a Tamil Nadu-based company. Explosive samples lifted from the spot have been sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory, police said.
“Appropriate legal action will be taken once we will get the final report from FSL,” Verma said.
He added that special teams have been asked to conduct drives in all firecracker shops to check whether or not norms are being followed.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who is in Bahrain, called Delhi Police Commissioner Alok Kumar Verma to take stock of the