The special investigation unit (SIU) of the Crime Branch, which is probing the fire at the five-storey Anaj Mandi building where 43 people died Sunday, has recorded the statement of three minors, who said they had been working on the second and third floors for the last six-eight months. Police have accordingly added sections of the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act in the existing FIR, and are likely to arrest contractors who got the minors jobs at the manufacturing units.
During investigation, officers found that five minors died in the incident, while seven survived. Police suspect the list of dead could include two more minors, and have asked their families for documents as proof of age.
“Police recorded the statement of six children; one of them managed to escape from the hospital after treatment. One of the survivors, in his statement, told police he hails from Bihar and came to Delhi with the help of a relative who was already working at another unit in Anaj Mandi. He worked in a room on the second floor, manufacturing plastic mirror frames. He was paid Rs 2,000 a month, and would be provided food by the contractor,” a senior officer said.
In the FIR, inspector Vijay Kumar, posted at Sadar Bazar, stated that during a visit to the spot, the mobile crime team found cardboard sheets on the ground floor. “On the first floor, there were plastic mirror frames; the second floor had mirror frames as well; the third floor had sewing machines along with garments; and the fourth floor had a rexine bag unit,” the FIR states.
In his statement to police, another minor levelled similar allegations. “Another 15-year-old boy claimed he was working on the third floor and getting
Rs 8,000 a month. The salary range for minors seems to be Rs 2,000-8,000,” an officer said.
While some of the minors were working at the building, others had come to visit their relatives and ended up spending the night there. “A 16-year-old boy informed police his elder brother was working in the building and he had come to visit him before heading back to his village in Bihar,” an officer said.