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Mundka fire investigation: Building owner ‘may have used fake documents’

Mundka fire investigation update: The building owner, Manish Lakra, was arrested two days after the fire killed 27 and was in judicial custody since then.

Written by Jignasa Sinha | New Delhi |
Updated: May 18, 2022 9:57:11 am
Sources said that the probe has so far suggested that Lakra and his family allegedly obtained fake licences and documents to get a clearance certificate from the MCD in 2016.

The owner of the four-storey commercial building that caught fire last week in Mundka has been sent to one-day police custody as investigators try to verify whether the documents and licences he had were legitimate. The building owner, Manish Lakra, was arrested two days after the fire killed 27 and was in judicial custody since then. Sources said that the probe has so far suggested that Lakra and his family allegedly obtained fake licences and documents to get a clearance certificate from the MCD in 2016.

“The owner got a clearance from the MCD in 2016 but it was later revoked. One must have a fire NOC (no objection certificate) and other licences to run such a commercial space. We suspect Lakra was using fake or forged documents,” said an officer on condition of anonymity.

Atul Garg, the Delhi Fire Services Chief, said, “We never gave a fire NOC to the building. As per our records, they never applied for a certificate.”

While the fourth floor of the building had a penthouse where Lakra and his family lived, the other floors were given for rent to the owners of Cofe Impex Pvt Ltd, brother Harish and Varun Goel, in 2017.

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“The owner didn’t have clearance to run the building as a commercial space at the time. We are looking into all documents,” said the officer.

Police have also arrested the Goel brothers for alleged negligence by running the place illegally. Sameer Sharma, DCP (Outer), said, “We have one-day police custody for all three. For the Goel brothers, we need to know about their background, company details, the permissions required to run the place, etc.”

Police said they will also collect blood samples of the Goel brothers to proceed with the DNA profiling test at Forensic Science Laboratory, Rohini. As per police, the Goel brothers also filed a complaint that their father Amarnath Goel has been missing since the fire.

“We have recovered 27 bodies and 27 missing names. To check for Amarnath’s body, we will take the Goel brothers’ sample to compare and match with the unidentified charred bodies,” said an officer.

Meanwhile, the Delhi Fire Services said they had filed a police complaint last year about fake fire NOCs being used in West and North Delhi.

“To get a BSES connection in a building with a height of 15 metres or above, the owners must have a fire NOC. When some applications came for verification, we found that the NOC were fake. We issued notices but we don’t think any action was taken by police in these cases,” said a senior fire official.

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