Karol Bagh hotel fire: Families seek closure — but first, accountabilityhttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/karol-bagh-hotel-fire-families-seek-closure-but-first-accountability-5582850/

Karol Bagh hotel fire: Families seek closure — but first, accountability

As a police officer sat with him to complete documentation, Rajkumar looked lost as he tried to recollect memories of his younger brother.

Hotel Arpit Palace had a fire No-Objection Certificate (NoC).

Inside the mortuary of Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital on Wednesday, Rajkumar Mahadev broke down on seeing the body of his brother Santosh (35), who was among the 17 killed in the fire at a hotel in Karol Bagh in the early hours of Tuesday.

As a police officer sat with him to complete documentation, Rajkumar looked lost as he tried to recollect memories of his younger brother.

He and many other families of victims waited to claim the bodies, while some relatives went to Hotel Arpit Palace to gather what was left of their belongings. A number of ambulances from the hospital also assisted in transporting the bodies to their homes.

A native of Solapur near Pune, Santosh ran a clinical research organisation in Mumbai. His friends said he also had experience in running global clinical trials and was in Delhi to attend a meeting. “We are taking the body directly to Solapur… his wife and children are still in a state of shock,” said Rohit Gaikode, a neighbour who accompanied the family.

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A few feet away, Sukumaran, father of 38-year-old Aravinth Sukumaran, an export house employee from Chennai, wept as he answered a call asking about his son. He last spoke to him on Sunday.

“The hotel authorities are at fault and strict action should be taken against them. I have lost my son and this is the biggest grief a man can have. His children were waiting for him to come home, how will I face them now,” he said.

The family of 33-year-old Pranav Kumar Bhaskar, an HPCL employee from Hyderabad, echoed the sentiment. “A proper investigation should be done to find out how this hotel was freely operating in the area. Such incidents are happening every year and many lives are lost. Is this why we are paying taxes? Someone should be held accountable,” said his father Krishna Gopal Prasad, cradling a bag of toys that Bhaskar had bought for his son.

According to police, one of the victims, Rabiya Jusafbai Memon, was initially staying on the first floor of the hotel, but later moved to the third floor for a different room.

Officials said the bodies of two Myanmar nationals, Htumhla Sein (32) and Hla May (67), will be taken home on Thursday.