Hailakandi fire

Indore: A devastating fire, allegedly caused by a jilted lover, in a residential building in Vijay Nagar locality of Indore city early Saturday morning killed seven persons and injured nine others, police said.

Shubham aka Sanjay Dixit (27), who is absconding, allegedly torched the scooter of a woman who had rejected his marriage offer, police said late at night.

The fire spread from the building’s parking area and spread upward, they said, adding that a case of murder has been registered against Dixit.

Initially it appeared that a short circuit caused the fire. But after scanning CCTV footage of the houses near the gutted building, we found that a man ignited the blaze by setting fire to a vehicle in the building’s parking area. The flames spread and engulfed the three-storey building,” Indore Police Commissioner Harinarayan Chari Mishra told reporters.

The accused hails from Jhansi and had vacated a rented flat in the building six months ago. He wanted to marry a woman who lived in the same building but she was going to marry another person, and Dixit began to nurse a grudge against her, the commissioner said.

Dixit and the woman also had had a quarrel over Rs 10,000, he said.

The woman was in the building when the fire started but she was safe, the commissioner said, adding that police spoke to her about the accused.

A First Information Report has been registered against Dixit, who works in a private company, under sections 302 (murder) and 436 (mischief by fire intending to cause destruction of any building) of Indian Penal Code, he said.

Teams have been formed to arrest the accused, Mishra added.

Earlier, Vijay Nagar police station’s inspector Tehzeeb Qazi had said, citing witnesses, that a short circuit in the electric meter triggered the fire. Locals alleged that fire brigade personnel arrived late on the spot. Some residents jumped off the balconies of their flats and a couple of them jumped from the terrace and saved themselves.

Expressing grief over the incident, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan ordered a probe into it and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh to the next kin of each deceased.

The blaze erupted between 3 and 4 am in the building located in Vijay Nagar’s congested Swarna Bagh Colony area which has narrow approach lanes, officials said.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Sampat Upadhyay said that a couple, Ishwar Singh Sisodia and his wife Neetu Sisodia, were among the seven killed in the fire. The couple lived in a rented flat in the building as their new house was being constructed nearby, he said.

The deceased included one more woman, who has been identified as Akanksha, DCP Upadhyay said, adding that nine persons were injured in the incident.

There were several flats on the three floors of the building, which were occupied, he said. “After the fire broke out, the area around the building’s main door on the ground floor and the staircase got enveloped in flames and black smoke, while the door that led to the terrace from the third floor turned extremely hot, due to which most of the people got trapped inside. Some people rushed to the balcony of their flats to save themselves,” the DCP said.

Akshay Solanki, an onlooker, said, “Afterwards, two to three bodies were brought out of the building. They were charred beyond recognition.” He alleged that the fire brigade personnel reached late. “Had they arrived in time, lives could have been saved,” he said.

Some videos which went viral on social media showed flames and thick smoke enveloping the building, causing sparks in the electricity cables with people crying and screaming for help before fire tenders reached the scene.

Local people could be seen making futile attempts to put out the fire with buckets of water. Inspector Qazi said the fire tenders had a tough time reaching the building due to the narrow alley. Firefighters rescued the people trapped inside and brought the fire under control, he said.

“They stopped the blaze from spreading to nearby areas,” he added. Most of the victims died due to asphyxiation, he said.

Chief minister Chouhan said in a tweet, “I have ordered a probe, guilty will face tough action. Families of the deceased would be paid Rs 4 lakh each.” According to eyewitnesses, no fire safety set-up was in place in the building.

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