The probe by Mumbai Police into the Kamala Mills fire tragedy has revealed that the fire might have caused due to a short circuit and the inflammable tarpaulin sheets used as sheds was responsible for spreading the blaze.
“The restro-bar had used tarpaulin sheets which are inflammable in nature. Minutes after the short circuit due to the tarpaulin sheets the entire outlet was engulfed in fire,” said an official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“Our preliminary findings indicate that short circuit was the reason behind the Thursday night blaze, the same has been corroborated by the witnesses,” added the official.
The Police’s probe has also revealed that the staff and the managers of 1Above fled the spot immediately after the fire broke out and failed to rescue the patrons. Also, all those who were killed in the deadly blaze were those who had come to dine at 1Above. “None of those killed was patrons of Mojo Bistro but were those dining at 1Above ” the official further added.
Meanwhile, the Mumbai Police has formed numerous teams to locate the absconding accused. “They will soon be under arrests. A manhunt is on. We have also issued lookout circulars ( locs) to ensure that they don’t flee the country,” said another official.
The city police on Friday registered an FIR against four persons after 14 people died and 19 others sustained injuries when a fire broke out on the top floor of a building inside the Kamala Mill compound in Lower Parel in the early hours of Friday. The police have charged three directors of Sigrid Ospitalita and Entertainment LLP and the manager of 1Above, where the incident took place on charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder in addition to other sections `.
As per information provided by the police, the accused did not keep any firefighting equipment at the joint, there were obstructions in the path leading to the emergency exit and that they did not help the patrons in the emergency situation. The four persons named in the FIR include the three directors of Sigrid hospitality that runs 1Above.The three have been identified as Kripesh Sanghvi, Jigar Sanghvi and Abhijeet Mankar.
An officer said that when they entered the eatery, they found 12 bodies in the washroom while two were lying in the premises. ” We suspect that since the rest of the place had curtains that would catch fire easily, they fled to the washroom which was a pucca structure.”
Senior police inspector Ahmed Pathan from the NM Joshi Marg police station said that the FIR has been registered under sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 337 (endangering personal safety of others), 338(causing grievous hurt by endangering personal safety of others) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.
Sources added that 1 Above had blocked the fire exit using iron rods. “The original space is 20×20 sq ft in which only 4-5 five tables can be put. But the pub used the open space to add more tables,” added the official.
However, in a statement released to the press, 1Above has claimed that the fire did not originate from their premises.
“The facts of the incident, as seen by our staff, indicate a rising fire that began to emanate from the adjoining quarters to 1Above. We presume the unmanageable nature at the preliminary source of the fire resulted in it’s escalation to our property where all owners, staff and restaurant management from 1 Above engaged immediately in clearing the crowd from the establishment. There was no escape from Mojo’s Bistro, therefore, we believe that all their guests were told go through the premises of 1Above as we have an emergency exit. Hence patrons from Mojo’s Bistro also began to rush into our premises as we helped the Fire Brigade that had arrived at the scene to evacuate guests. All our premises are well inspected and we have the requisite permissions for the same,” the statement read.
The Mumbai Police on its part says that they will examine the claims. ” We are probing all possible angles and there has been no clean given to Mojo Bristo. If during the course we find their culpability, action will be taken accordingly,” added the official.
1Above is owned by Sigrid Ospitalita and Entertainment, LLP. Kripesh Sanghvi, Jigar Sanghvi and Abhijeet Mankar are the three partners of the company. All the three are shown as wanted accused in the case registered by Mumbai Police. It is a Mumbai-registered limited liability (LLP) company incorporated on 25 July 2016 with an initial capital of Rs 1 lakh.
It’s neighbouring outlet, Mojo Bristo is co-owned by Nagpur based businessman Yug Tuli and Yug Pathak. Pathak is the son of retired IPS officer KK Pathak who served as a commissioner for Pune and Nagpur.
In a text message to The Indian Express, Tuli said, “We believe we should not play the blame game at this time, and give the authorities some time to investigate and come out with the facts,” the message read. KK Pathak refused to comment