THE MUMBAI Police on Friday registered an FIR against four persons after 14 people died and 54 others sustained injuries when a fire broke out on the top floor of a building inside the Kamala Mills Compound in Lower Parel in the early hours of Friday. The police have charged three directors of Sigrid Ospitalita and Entertainment LLP and the manager of 1Above, where the incident took place, on charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder in addition to other sections of the Indian Penal Code.
According to information provided by the police, the accused did not have fire fighting equipment in the eatery and there were obstructions in the path leading to the emergency exit. The four persons named in the FIR include the three directors of Sigrid — Kripesh Sanghvi, Jigar Sanghvi and Abhijeet Mankar.
Additional Commissioner of Police (central region) S Jayakumar said an FIR was filed against four persons and the police were on the lookout for them. “All four are related to the 1Above eatery. Prima facie we found all security measures were not followed by them. However, we will be waiting for the report from the fire department before we draw any conclusion,” Jayakumar said. An officer said they have so far recorded the statements of 20 people.
Senior police inspector Ahmed Pathan from the N M Joshi Marg police station said the FIR was registered under sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 337 (endangering personal safety of others), 338 (causing grievous hurt by endangering personal safety of others) and 34 (common intention) of the IPC.
Meanwhile, the Mumbai Police have despatched teams to Pune, Goa and Delhi to locate the accused. “One team is on the lookout for the Sanghvis. A team is also stationed at the airport. Our cyber team has informed us that the Sanghvis were planning to hold a New Year bash and had sent invites on their Facebook page,” said another senior officer.
The Mumbai Police also carried out searches in properties owned by Sanghvis. 1Above is owned by Sigrid Ospitalita and Entertainment LLP. The Sanghvis and Mankar are the three partners of the company, a Mumbai-registered limited liability (LLP) company incorporated on July 25, 2016 with an initial capital of Rs 1 lakh.
Its neighbouring outlet Mojo’s Bistro is co-owned by Nagpur-based businessman Yug Tuli and Yug Pathak. Pathak is the son of retired IPS officer K K Pathak, who served as police commissioner in Pune and Nagpur. In a text message to The Indian Express, Tuli said, “We believe we should not play the blame game at this time and give the authorities some time to investigate and come out with the facts,” the message read. K K Pathak refused to comment.
While prima facie the police suspect the fire originated at 1Above, they are waiting for a report from the BMC and the fire brigade on the origin and cause of the fire. “1Above was completely gutted in fire so we suspect the fire originated from the said pub. Even the survivors have corroborated the same but we are waiting for a report from the civic body and the fire brigade on the cause of the fire. There have been allegations of hookahs being smoked but we haven’t found anything to that effect,” added the official.
Sources added that the 1Above management had blocked the fire exit using iron rods. “The original space is 20×20 sq.ft. in which only 4-5 five tables can be put. But the pub used the open space to add more tables,” the official said.
However, in a statement released to the press, 1Above claimed the fire did not originate from their premises. “The facts of the incident, as seen by our staff, indicate a rising fire that began to emanate from the adjoining quarters to 1Above.
We presume the unmanageable nature at the preliminary source of the fire resulted in its escalation to our property where all owners, staff and restaurant management from 1Above engaged immediately in clearing the crowd from the establishment. There was no escape from Mojo’s Bistro, therefore we believe that all their guests were told go through the premises of 1Above as we have an emergency exit. Hence patrons from Mojo’s Bistro also began to rush into our premises as we helped the fire brigade that had arrived at the scene to evacuate guests. All our premises are well inspected and we have the requisite permissions for the same,” the statement read.
The Mumbai Police on their part said they would examine the claims. “We are probing all possible angles and there has been no clean chit given to Mojo’s Bistro. If during the course of probe we find their culpability, action will be taken accordingly,” added the official.