M A I N   N E W S

Meerut seethes with anger
Kin of fire victims heckle Mulayam Singh
Shahira Naim

  • Heart-rending scenes at hospitals, mortuary
  • Judicial probe ordered
  • Free medical help promised
  • Sonia visits injured

Lucknow/Meerut, April 11
Meerut seethed with anger as crowds of people surrounded and heckled Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav today forcing him to beat a hasty retreat from the site of the consumer fair at Victoria Park where a fire disaster claimed 50 lives last evening.

After the initial shock the mood of Meerut was clearly of anger and disappointment at the complete lack of preparedness of the authorities.

A visibly shocked Chief Minister ordered a judicial enquiry into the worst tragedy in the state in recent years.

It was a heart rending sight at the hospitals and mortuary as the relatives of the victims ran from bed to bed, stretcher to stretcher trying to identify their loved ones amongst the badly burnt patients.

Speaking to the Press Mr Mulayam Singh assured that the culprits responsible for the inferno would not be spared. He also agreed that due to lack of coordination between the officials the number of deceased varied. He however, claimed that 30 had died, around 141 had burn injuries — 16 of them serious, and around the same number were not traceable.

He also promised free medical care for those admitted to various hospitals in the city and elsewhere.

The number of deaths claimed by the state government does not tally with the eyewitness’ account that believe that many more were under the pandals when it collapsed, probably explaining the number of missing.

Briefing the media Home Secretary S.K. Aggarwal said that the relatives of the missing persons had been instructed to file FIRs to this affect. Till now five such complaints had been received at various police stations in Meerut.

Meanwhile, FIRs have been registered against the main accused associated with Mrinal Event Management Company that had set up the fair. They include Lakhan Tomar, and Sidharth Manohar who have since disappeared from their residences with their families.

Meanwhile, a stream of VIP visitors made the work of the doctors and district administration more difficult. Speaking on condition of anonymity a doctor at the Sushila Jaswant Rai Hospital said burnt patients had very high chances of catching infection and are kept in isolation. However, here the number of VIP visitors along with their hanger-ons and security were exposing them to all sorts of infections.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi today visited the local hospitals here to meet the injured. Refusing to comment on the tragedy she said that she would wait for the report of the enquiry.

Ms Gandhi came here along with Union Minister of State for Home Sri Prakash Jaiswal and inquired about the health of the injured. They also met relatives of the affected people.

Mr Jaiswal announced an additional Central ex-gratia payment of Rs 1 lakh for the dead, Rs 25,000 for the seriously injured and Rs 10,000 for the not so seriously injured.

Senior BJP leader Kalraj Mishra who also visited the hospital demanded the state government to raise the ex-gratia payment to the dead from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 10 lakh and those to the injured from Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh. “Burn injures take a long time to heal and the cost of treatment can be very high”, he pointed out.

The Home Department has also issued orders to all DMs and SSPs not to give permission for any public gathering, cultural or religious event without examining the fire prevention arrangements.

A similar consumer fair to begin in Allahabad from April 13 has been cancelled.



CPM for firm action in Meerut fire case
Tribune News Service

One of the victims from Meerut undergoes treatment at Safderjung Hospital, New Delhi, on Tuesday
One of the victims from Meerut undergoes treatment at Safderjung Hospital, New Delhi, on Tuesday. — Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal

New Delhi, April 11
The CPM today demanded a firm action against those responsible for the Meerut fire tragedy and expressed deep shock over the incident that claimed over 50 lives.
“Firm action should be taken against the organisers and the officials who neglected their responsibilities,” the party said.

The fair was organised ignoring elementary fire safety and security regulations. The halls had single entry and exit gates that contributed to the high casualty rate, it said.

The party said the administration should ensure proper medical treatment for all those who had suffered burn and other injuries.

It also demanded a high-level judicial inquiry into the role of the police during the recent communal violence in Aligarh.

The party asked the Mulayam Singh government in Uttar Pradesh to take immediate steps to ensure peace and harmony in the state.

“In the recent period, a number of incidents of communal provocation and violence have occurred in UP, the communal riots in Mau being one of the major ones. The state government has not taken these incidents seriously and the administration has been lax in responding firmly to communal activities,” a party statement said.


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