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1-min read

Surat Blaze: Two Fire Officers Arrested for 'Negligence' After 22 Students Killed

The crime branch said that all the fire officers of Surat city had been instructed by the SMC authorities to conduct fire safety audit of all the commercial buildings in their respective areas, during a meeting convened on January 31 this year.

PTI

Updated:May 31, 2019, 8:58 PM IST
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Surat Blaze: Two Fire Officers Arrested for 'Negligence' After 22 Students Killed
Firefighters work to douse the flames at the Takshashila Complex in Surat on May 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Sarju Parekh)
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Surat: A week after 22 students were killed in a devastating fire at a coaching centre here, two officers of the Surat fire department, who had been suspended following the incident, were arrested on the charge of criminal negligence, police said on Friday.

The arrest was made by the Surat crime branch Thursday night.

According to police, the two officers did not conduct fire safety audit of the four-storey Takshashila Arcade in Sarthana area in the city, where the blaze erupted.

Deputy chief fire officer S K Acharya (54) and fire officer of East Zone Kirti Mod (40) were arrested on Thursday night, a release by the crime branch said.

Both the officers had been suspended by the Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) after the incident.

The crime branch said that all the fire officers of Surat city had been instructed by the SMC authorities to conduct fire safety audit of all the commercial buildings in their respective areas, during a meeting convened on January 31 this year.

"However, both the accused showed lax attitude and did not follow the instructions. This complex was also supposed to be checked by them. But, it was not checked. We have arrested both the suspended officials for showing criminal negligence in discharging their duties," the release said.

With their arrest, the total number of persons held in the case so far has gone up to five. The crime branch had earlier arrested the owner of the coaching institute, Bhargav Butani, and two builders - Harshul Vekaria and Jignesh Paghdal.

An FIR against them was lodged at Sarthana police station. Investigation into the case was later handed over to the Surat crime branch.

The probe conducted so far has revealed that the presence of inflammable materials, including flex banners and tyres, on the fourth floor of the complex, contributed to the spread of fire very quickly, which killed 22 teenage students, including 18 girls, on May 24.

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