FIR against 6 partners of Rajkot game zone, 2 held; ‘facility didn’t have fire NOC’


PTI, May 26, 2024, 8:33 PM IST

Credit: PTI

Ahmedabad: An owner partner of the Rajkot-based TRP game zone and its manager were arrested on the charge of culpable homicide after a devastating blaze killed 27 persons including children, while it emerged the facility was operated without fire NOC.

The game zone had fire safety equipment but action taken to control the fire was not sufficient, leading to the tragedy on Saturday, a senior police officer said on Sunday, a day after the tragedy.

The Gujarat High Court on Sunday took suo motu cognisance of the fire tragedy, terming it a prima facie ”man-made disaster”. The bench noted a stock of highly inflammable materials such as petrol, fibres and fibreglass sheets were stored at the facility.

”Yuvrajsinh Solanki, a partner in the Raceway Enterprise, which operated the TRP game zone, and the entertainment facility’s manager Nitin Jain have so far been arrested,” said Rajkot Deputy Commissioner of Police (crime) Parthrajsinh Gohil.

Rajkot taluka police have booked six persons for culpable homicide not amounting to murder including Dhaval Corporation proprietor Dhaval Thakkar, Raceway Enterprise partners Ashoksinh Jadeja, Kiritsinh Jadeja, Prakashchand Hiran, Yuvrajsinh Solanki and Rahul Rathod, as per the FIR.

Four different teams of the crime branch have been formed to nab the four absconding accused, Bhargava said.

The local police in November 2023 granted a booking license to the gaming zone, which was renewed for the period from January 1 to December 31, 2024, Rajkot Police Commissioner Raju Bhargava told reporters.

”The game zone had received permissions from the roads and buildings department. It had also submitted a proof of fire safety equipment to obtain the fire NOC which was under process and not yet completed,” he said.

The game zone had fire safety equipment but action taken to control the blaze was not sufficient, leading to the tragedy on Saturday, he said.

As per the FIR, the accused persons erected a 50-metre wide and 60-metre long structure with a height of around two to three storeys using metal sheet fabrication to create a game zone.

The investigation in the case has been handed over to the crime branch and a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Rajkot police headed by Joint Additional Commissioner of Police Vidhi Chaudhary.

Notably, the Gujarat government has also formed a five-member SIT headed by state Additional Director General of Police Subhash Trivedi.

Rajkot Collector Prabhav Joshi said DNA samples of all the victims were sent to Gandhinagar FSL in the wee hours of Sunday by air ambulance.

An NDRF team with sniffer dogs was engaged to remove the debris and ensure the area was safe. Additional Commissioner of Police (ACP) Vinayak Patel said 27 bodies were recovered from the incident site and taken to the city civil hospital.

Three persons were injured in the incident and their health condition was stable, he said.

”The bodies are charred beyond recognition, and we have completed the process of collecting the DNA samples of the bodies and the relatives who have claimed them so that the identity of the deceased can be established. The death toll is not likely to rise any further,” he said.

Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel inspected the fire tragedy site and also met family members of the victims.

Patel later held a high-level review meeting at the Hirasar Airport in Rajkot regarding the rescue and relief work, treatment of the injured, and other measures taken by the local administration.

A burns ward with a capacity of 100 beds was set up at the civil hospital and surgeons and trained nurses were immediately called to Rajkot from Jamnagar, Ahmedabad, Morbi, Junagadh, and Bhavnagar, as per the official release.

Gujarat DGP Vikas Sahay has ordered the closure of all game zones in different cities of the state as a precautionary measure, and safety measures including those related to fire are being verified.

The special bench of the Gujarat High Court on Sunday observed such gaming zones and recreational facilities have come up without the necessary approvals from competent authorities.

The bench of Justices Biren Vaishnav and Devan Desai directed advocates of the Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Rajkot municipal corporations to appear before it on Monday with instructions as to under what provisions of law the authorities led these units to be set up or continue to operate under their jurisdiction.

Quoting newspaper reports, the high court said temporary structures were created at the TRP game zone in Rajkot in order to overcome the hurdles caused by taking necessary permissions, and no-objection certificates, including the fire NOC and construction permission.

”Prima facie, a man-made disaster has occurred where innocent lives of children have been lost” and families have grieved their loss, it said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh from the PM’s National Relief Fund for the next of kin of each deceased in the Rajkot game zone fire incident, his office said on Sunday.

The injured persons would be given Rs 50,000, the Prime Minister’s Office said on X.

The Gujarat government has also announced an ex gratia of Rs 4 lakh to the kin of each deceased and Rs 50,000 to the injured persons.

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