The co-owner of Mojo’s Bistro in Lower Parel, Yug K Pathak, was arrested on Saturday, a day after the Mumbai Fire Brigade concluded in its report that the fire in Kamala Mills originated in his establishment and spread to 1Above, leading to 14 deaths.
Pathak (26), the son of the former Pune Police Commissioner K K Pathak, was summoned to N M Joshi Marg police station on Saturday morning, hours after the Mumbai Fire Brigade submitted its report to Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta. He has been booked under IPC Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder). He will be produced in court on Sunday.
Mumbai Police spokesperson, Deputy Commissioner of Police Sachin Patil, said that names of Pathak and Bistro co-owner Yug Tulli were added to the FIR after the fire brigade’s report. The police are still looking for Tulli. He was not found when a police team went to his home in Nagpur, a senior official said.
In the report, the fire brigade has found that on the night of December 28 embers from a hookah had flown to curtains in the south-east corner of the rooftop Bistro. It quickly spread to the canopy of the completely enclosed adjacent establishment, 1Above, the report says. A senior police officer said, “The fire spread across to 1Above in less than a minute. A witness who was inside Mojo’s Bistro, and saw how the fire spread, has recorded his statement. We have also scrutinised a video of the incident but its authenticity has not been established.”
In its panchnama of the gutted pubs, the police found that staffers and patrons at Mojo’s Bistro were able to escape the blaze as the access to the fire exit was unhindered. “We have drawn detailed maps and floor plans of Mojo’s Bistro and 1Above and found that the fire exit at 1Above was double-locked, and further blocked by material stored there,” the official said.
The police are questioning a duty manager at 1Above, who was among those who escaped the blaze. An officer said the focus is on finding out whether the staff members were trained in fire safety and evacuation drills, and whether they used fire extinguishers to contain the blaze. “We will also ask the manager whether the staff used keys to open an emergency exit to allow patrons to escape,” an officer who is part of the probe said.
Pathak and Tulli, the police said, also knew that a wooden partition built by 1Above blocked access to an emergency exit. Police suspect the two also misled the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and fire brigade officials by claiming that an emergency exit of another establishment was theirs.
The police have so far arrested five others, including two managers of 1Above, and Mahendra Sanghvi, a relative of Jigar and Kripesh Sanghvi, who own 1Above, along with Abhijeet Mankar. On Friday, the police announced a reward of Rs 1 lakh for information leading to arrest of the missing trio.