Three girls were killed and 15 others suffered burn injuries in a massive fire which gutted the entire tent accommodation put up for Rashtra Katha Shibir at Pransla village, near Upleta in gujarat’s Rajkot district late on Friday night. The girls were camping in the tents while participating in the annual event which began on January 6 and was scheduled to end on Saturday. The state government has announced Rs 3 lakh ex gratia payment to the victims’ families and ordered the Rajkot Collector to probe the matter.
Rajkot district collector Vikrant Pandey confirmed that the three girls were identified as Kijnal A Shiala (14), from Ambardi in Rajkot; Krupali A Dave (14), from Vavdi Road in Morbi and Neeta S Jamod (16), from Ghamrasada at Sayla in Surendranagar district. Pandey told The Sunday Express that the primary investigation suggests that the incident occurred due to short circuit. “We are holding a detail probe to find out the reason,” he said. “One of the three girls had safely come out of the burning tent, but she went again to get her cellphone due to which she got burnt.”
The event was organised by spiritual leader Swami Dharmabandhu. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Chief Minister Vijay Rupani are among those who had attended the camp. Locals said that for the past 20 years, Dharmabandhu has been holding this event which claims to promote patriotism among students who come from different part of the state and the country.
Superintendent of Police, Rajkot rural, Antrip Sood said that the fire broke out at around 11:40 pm when the day-long event had come to an end and the participants were settling down in their tents. “We can’t say for sure what caused the fire. Samples have been collected for forensic examination for determination,” Sood said.
Sood said that a case of “unnatural death” had been registered and relevant sections of the IPC will be added depending upon the findings. He said that the girls were settling after a cultural event and most of them were awake. A large group of students from other states had left early in the day which resulted into lesser casualty.
Police said that there were about 15 girls who were rushed to hospital. They are suffering from burns and suffocation. Many of them are said to be serious. There were nearly 50 tents and half of them were empty by Friday night. Police said the entire camp was gutted in the matter of 15 to 20 minutes due to strong wind.