Following the major fire at the Serum Institute of India (SII) campus in Pune on Thursday that killed five persons and caused serious property damage, Pune Police have launched a probe while the state and central intelligence agencies are closely monitoring the developments, considering the company’s role in the country’s Covid-19 response.
Pune police officials said that a probe will be conducted in the case, in which possibilities of criminal negligence leading to death will be probed, along with that of the fire being a deliberate act of sabotage. In the initial stage, the Crime Branch of Pune City Police will conduct a parallel probe along with the team from Hadapsar police station, which has jurisdiction over the area.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Namrata Patil said, “After every such major incident of fire, an investigation is conducted. It will happen in this case too. There is loss of life and damage to property on two floors of the building. As part of procedure, a case of accidental death — pending probe into causes — will be registered. We will decide the course of legal action after getting the findings of this preliminary probe.”
Explaining the possible sequence of probe in the case, Assistant Commissioner of Police Kalyan Vidhate of Hasapsar Division said, “Initially, a case will be registered wherein details of accidental fire and accidental death will be recorded, pending probe into causes. The investigation teams will record statements of the persons involved in the work — the workers, contractor, company officials, supervisors etc. Forensic analysis of the samples collected may also be done if the probe calls for it. The probe will try to determine whether negligence on anyone’s part led to the fire and loss of life, if adequate precautionary measures for safety were taken, and even the possibility it being a deliberate act will be probed. Accordingly, an offence might be registered.”
When asked whether there will be a probe to ascertain if there was foul play behind the fire, Pune Police Commissioner Amitabh Gupta said, “Every possible angle will be checked. We are not ruling out anything at this stage.”
Meanwhile, sources from state and central intelligence agencies said their teams were keeping a close watch on the developments unfolding at the SII campus. “Because of its importance to the country’s response to the pandemic, Serum Institute is a sensitive installation. Various agencies are monitoring the fire incident and are coordinating with local police,” a source said.