The three Kaswa brothers from Petlawad have gone from being the poster boys of the Swetambar Terapanth Jain community to, perhaps, the most hated men in town.
For, it was the shop of the youngest brother, Rajendra Kaswa, where explosives that killed 80 on Saturday were illegally stored. Now, all three brothers — who once had immense clout owing to their wealth — are absconding along with their relatives.
At a special meeting held at the Terapanth Bhavan Monday, the three brothers were stripped of all positions they held in the community.
Meanwhile, a higher secondary school adjacent to the bungalows of two of the brothers, Foolchand and Narendra, has been closed for four days over fears that explosives could be stored there, too. Narendra is, incidentally, also the secretary of the school. Explosives were recovered from a sealed godown next to the bungalows.
Even those considered close to the Kaswas, like former Nagarpalika president Vinod Bhandari, are being blamed for facilitating their escape. A furious Vinod said, “I was busy providing relief to the victims.”
Suddenly, old rivalries have been renewed and old allegations have resurfaced. Three persons, who once worked for the Kaswas and sustained injuries in a blasting operation that went wrong near Ratlam in 1998, spoke out Monday. Two of them were partially blinded in the operation. They were rushed to Vadodara after the mishap and hospitalised for a month.
Two of the victims — Thavriya Bhabar, 45, and Ganpat Menda, 35 — told The Indian Express that their own advocates had frustrated them to the point that they gave up the cases.
“They did not even inform our families about the mishap,” they said.
Parasmal Bhandari, 50, who worked for the brothers till a decade ago, claimed the explosives should have been stored in a godown in Hanumangarh, about 3 km from the blast site.
He also alleged that the brothers, who owned a dozen tractors fitted with compressors , used this business as a front for illegally selling gelatin sticks and detonators.