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Heads roll as fury spills on to Meerut roads
Shahira Naim

Lucknow, April 12
As the fury of Meerut people spilled on to the roads today,the state government finally woke up and removed the administrative top brass, including the DM, the SSP, the SP and the ADM (City).

Agitated at the administrationís decision to run a bulldozer over the ill-fated site of the mishap at the Victoria Park, possibly destroying vital evidence, students from the Meerut University ransacked the office of the District Magistrate. Worse still, the police refused to obey lathi-charge orders.

Livid relatives of the dead and missing barged into the press conference of the Commissioner, Mr Mohinder Singh, in the evening.

They sought to know what the administration was doing for them. The Commissioner had to call off the press meet.

Lawyers, led by the head of the Meerut Bar Association, laid siege to the camp office of the Commissioner asking what had been done to trace the missing persons.

Doctors threatened to go on a flash strike to protest against the assault on one of their colleagues last night by angry relatives.

Reacting to the gravity of the problem, the UP Government decided to transfer the District Magistrate, the SSP, the ADM and the SP (City).

Mr Mukesh Meshram will be the new DM of Meerut while Mr Navneet Sikera will take over as SSP.

The new ADM and the ASP are Mr Manvendra Singh and Udai Shankar Jaiswal, respectively

What led to the anger directed against administration exploding in public places was the use of bulldozers on the debris at the site of the accident.

People present on the site during the operation had seen corpses of children being flattened.

Viewing it as a cover-up by the district administration to save their skin, furious residents directed their anger against the DM, Mr Ram Krishan, for what they saw as an attempt to keep the death toll down.

According to reports, matters got out of hand when a bundle of clothes, thrown outside the mortuary, was reportedly found to contain five skulls of children.

While the hospital authorities claimed that the skulls were being used in the Anatomy Department to teach medical students, the relatives and well-wishers of the victims insisted the skulls belonged to the victims who had perished in the fire.

While the Chief Secretary,, Mr N.C. Bajpai, refused to comment on the use of bulldozers, the DGP, Mr Bua Singh said the skulls were being sent for forensic examination to ascertain the truth.

Mr Bajpai said investigating such allegations was within the purview of the probes ordered by the state government.

Earlier in the day, while speaking to the press, Mr Bajpai had announced the transfer of the ADM (City) Shirish Dubey only by putting the entire blame on him for not scrutinising the necessary arrangements at the 'Brand India Consumer Fair' before giving the clearance.

When questioned why the state government was targeting a junior officer and not the DM who had inaugurated the fair, Mr Bajpai left in a huff.

However, by evening the heads of the entire top brass had rolled.

Mr Bajpai also informed that the state Cabinet in its meeting today had decided to send a letter to the Chief Justice, Allahabad High Court to recommend a sitting Judge to conduct the enquiry into the fire.

After his return from an on-the-spot assessment of the situation, Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav decided to replace the CDO enquiry by an enquiry by the Meerut Commissioner, Mr Mohinder Singh.

Explaining that it in no way would encroach upon the judicial enquiry, Mr Bajpai said the Commissioner's enquiry would be sort of a prima facie or fact-finding report which would assist the judicial probe.

Giving an update on the casualties Mr Bajpai said 32 deaths had been confirmed and of these 22 bodies had been identified by their family members.

The state government has also decided to raise the ex-gratia payment to those with serious and simple burns.

Now the seriously injured would get Rs 1 lakh and those with simple burns would be entitled to Rs 50,000.

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