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Deonar fire in March: No witness names 13 arrested by police

Most of them have said in their statements that the presence of methane gas may have triggered the fire.

Written by Sadaf Modak | Mumbai |
August 10, 2016 1:01:26 am
  deonar, deonar fire, deonar dumping ground, deonar fire witness, BMC, deonar waste collectors, deonar fire arrest, indian express news, mumbai, mumbai news The chargesheet includes statements of six BMC officials, 20 waste-collectors, five scrap dealers, three private security personnel and other residents.

NONE OF the 49 witnesses named in the chargesheet filed by the Mumbai Police in the Deonar dumping ground fire case has named any of the 13 arrested for causing the fire earlier this year.

The witnesses named in the chargesheet, filed last month, include Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials, waste collectors, scrap dealers and other residents around the dumping ground. Most of them have said in their statements that the presence of methane gas may have triggered the fire.

“On March 20, 2016, the temperature and wind speed was high. The high temperature caused the methane gas in the waste to catch fire.

Family members of the thirteen accused arrested by the Shivaji Nagar police station for the Deonar dumping ground fires. Photo of two accused: In blue shirt: Shamim khan in white shirt: Shoaib Shaikh Family members of the thirteen accused arrested by the Shivaji Nagar police station for the Deonar dumping ground fires. Photo of two accused: In blue shirt: Shamim khan in white shirt: Shoaib Shaikh

The windy air on the day caused the fire to spread, in my opinion,” a senior civic official’s statement reads. It further says that similar fires had been reported earlier too, for which water tankers had been stationed at the main gate. “There are some spots the tankers cannot reach. Also, there weren’t enough staff to tackle the fire immediately,” the BMC official states.

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The chargesheet includes statements of six BMC officials, 20 waste-collectors, five scrap dealers, three private security personnel and other residents.

After two fires at the dumping ground in January and March, the police had arrested 13 men, claiming they were scrap-dealers who directed waste collectors to burn waste at the dumping ground to separate valuable metal scrap from other garbage.

While some witnesses have said that there is a general practice among waste collectors to light a fire to separate valuable scrap from other waste, none of them have named any of the 13.

The family members of the 13 had claimed in April that they had been wrongly implicated after being picked up on the pretext of conducting blood tests.

While granting some of the accused bail last month, Additional Sessions Judge SM Bhosle had observed that he had not found any material that directly pointed at “the present applicants for their actual involvement” in the fire.

The court also observed that a non-bailable section (436: mischief to destroy with intent to destroy house, etc) was added to the bailable charges against the accused, though the initial panchnama did not mention a security shed the accused were alleged to have burnt.

Asked if the police had found any other evidence to link the accused to the fire, Senior Police Inspector Balasaheb Jadhav said the probe in the case was still on.

sadaf.modak@expressindia.com

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