Updated: September 13, 2015 8:39:52 pm
Protesters today heckled Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan near the site of the massive blast that left 89 people dead as anger spilled onto the roads in Petlawad town, while the main accused who allegedly had BJP links evaded arrest for storing mining explosives.
Chouhan and his Cabinet colleague Antar Singh Arya faced the wrath of slogan-shouting locals who blocked their path at the new bus stand square close to the site of the tragedy.
Gauging the public anger, the two leaders squatted on the ground after being gheraoed and gave a hearing to the protesters for more than 15 minutes before leaving for the mishap site, eyewitnesses said.
Protesters, including Congressmen, came out on the roads in large numbers shouting slogans against the state government and district administration, alleging that it had not taken appropriate steps to prevent the tragedy and demanded stern action against officials for the lapse, eyewitnesses said.
The protesters also shouted slogans demanding sacking of District Collector Aruna Gupta and also allegedly manhandled the area’s Sub-Divisional Officer of Police (SDOP) A R Khan, who tried the clear the way for the Chief Minister.
Chouhan, who visited the mishap site and also went door-to-door meeting the affected families, said he will stay put in Petlawad to oversee relief work till “normalcy is restored”.
Police also carried out searches at some places to nab Rajendra Kasawa, who had stored the huge pile of explosives for mining work in a building which triggered off a series of explosions yesterday.
The Congress demanded a CBI probe and alleged that he was was allowed to store explosives in a busy area against the rules as he was the district head of BJP’s Vyapar Mandal and accused Chouhan of “complete abuse and misuse of power”.
Asking the Chief Minister what action he has taken against the culprits, it alleged that Madhya Pradesh under his rule is turning into a “multi-killings and multi-deaths state” and cited the Vyapam scam.
State Congress chief Arun Yadav demanded that a CBI probe be ordered in the explosion. After visiting the blast site in Jhabua, Yadav alleged that Kasawa was an RSS and BJP man and that he had been booked some years back for storing explosives unlawfully in Jhabua.
During his visit to the house of one of the deceased, Chouhan announced a help of Rs 5 lakh to his family after learning that they had lost their bread-earner in yesterday’s tragedy.
Interacting with media at Petlawad, Chouhan said, “I will stay here till normalcy is restored and oversee the relief work myself. I will stay here tomorrow and day after tomorrow and after that if the situation demands and meet every family affected by the tragedy.”
He said the state government will request the MP High Court to appoint a sitting judge to probe the explosion.
“Guilty will be punished at all cost and no one is going to be spared,” he assured.
He also said that the financial help of Rs 2 lakh announced for each family will be reviewed and might be enhanced. Apart from Rs 50,000, free treatment will be provided to the injured, he said.
Saturday, he said, turned out to be the “saddest day of his life” and pledged to firmly stand by the families of the victims in their hour of grief.
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