Seven women and an 18-year-old man were charred to death and 11 others injured in a fire that swept through an illegal factory manufacturing party poppers in Ghaziabad district’s Modinagar town, officials said on Sunday.
Chief minister Yogi Adityanath took note of the incident and asked authorities to conduct an immediate probe, district magistrate Ajay Shankar Pandey said, adding that he has already ordered a magisterial inquiry into the accident. A first information report (FIR) will be lodged against the person operating the factory and he will be sent to jail, Pandey told reporters in Bakharwa village, where the factory is located.
“We have found laxity on part of the local police post in-charge as he was prima facie expected to have knowledge about the factory. The CM has announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to the family of the deceased,” Pandey said.
Senior superintendent of police Kalanidhi Naithani said: “The factory was illegal as we have found no documents or records of its operation or permission.”
Fire department officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said manufactured items stocked at the complex caught fire around 4pm. Forensic experts were roped in to ascertain the exact cause of fire. All the 11 injured are women.
“There were no safety measures and the factory did not have any licence. It was operating illegally. There were 25-30 women who were employed as workers; even children used to work here,” said Bupender Kumar, a villager.
Villagers alleged that the factory was operated illegally by one Nitin Chuaudhary and his partner, Momeen. A police raid was conducted about a fortnight ago but the operations continued unaffected, they said.
After the incident, officials in the Ghaziabad administration and the police rushed to the spot. Modinagar legislator Manju Siwach, too, visited the site.
“The factory was manufacturing poppers which are used for birthday celebrations. The work was going on illegally and explosive chemicals which were also stored, caught fire,” she said.
Later, villagers blocked a road and shouted slogans against officials.
“Villagers were demanding strict action as the factory continued its operations. My aunt had been working there for the past year…She was given a job for Rs 4,500 a month. She went to work at 8am and later we found that she died in the fire,” said Sahil, the nephew of one of the victims.