Mundka building owner arrested, forensic investigation begins


After 27 people died in a fire at a four-storey office complex near Mundka metro station, Delhi Police on Sunday arrested the owner of the building, identified as Manish Lakra. Lakra, who was absconding after the incident, was arrested after the police conducted multiple raids in Delhi and Haryana. The police had arrested company owners Harish Goel and Varun Goel in the matter on Saturday. An FIR was registered under Sections of Indian Penal Code 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide), 120 (concealing design to commit an offence punishable with imprisonment), 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) in connection with the fire incident.

Deputy Commissioner of Police, Outer District, Sameer Sharma on Saturday had assured action against the concerned officers if they were found guilty in the investigation. “We have registered FIR under appropriate sections. Action will be taken against everyone who did anything wrong or didn’t follow rules. We will do a proper investigation, action will be taken against officers too if they’re found culpable,” Sharma had said.

Meanwhile there are allegations that while the fire-tenders allegedly reached the Mundka fire incident site late, a crane driver proved a saviour for over 50 people, mostly women, by rescuing them while the building was engulfed in a raging fire.

Dayanand Tiwari was driving his crane along with the owner of the vehicle when he approached the four-storey building that was caught in the fire, with fire-tenders allegedly not in sight on 13 May.

The fire incident claimed 27 lives while a number of people are reported to be missing.

Tiwari managed to save more than 50 lives with the help of the crane and the local bystanders.

“I was coming from Mundka Udyog Nagar when I saw the fire in the building. With the help of the crane, we rescued over 50 people, mostly women,” he said

Tiwari, who had the crane owner and a helper on his side, recalled the horrific incident and said that the fire tenders had reached the spot after one and a half hours.

“Later, the fire turned huge and we could not rescue others. Our crane owner and helper were also present during the rescue operation. It was a very frightening sight,” he said.

On Sunday, two forensic science teams reached the site of the fire mishap to assist the Delhi Police in the investigation. The charred remains of the victims have also been found at the site. The police have said that a forensic DNA examination would be carried out to identify the identities of the deceased.

“Our two teams, including senior experts, are working at the spot currently. They will identify the remains, and lift samples for the purpose of identification. The experts from FSL will be assisting police in identifying and lifting samples from the spot which will be later handed over to the Investigating Officer,” said Deepa Verma, Director, Forensic Science Laboratory in an official statement.

Meanwhile, S.K. Gupta, who is heading the forensic operations, said that body remains at fire-related crime scenes are very difficult to detect, collect and handle.

“Burned exhibits like body tissues at the scene are often modified to a similar appearance, and bones, in particular, become discoloured, brittle, and highly fragmented,” Gupta said. Rajnish Singh, Assistant Public Relations Officer of the FSL, said that the impact of the fire is severe on all the floors of the building and the body remains are disturbed, altered, and destroyed. “It is very challenging for our experts to identify and collect these exhibits at the crime scene, however, a detailed inspection of the crime fire site is going on” he added.

A total of 27 people died.