Owner of building where massive fire broke out last month surrenders before Delhi Police

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New Delhi, Jul 15 (PTI) The absconding owner of the two-storey shoe godown in west Delhi’s Udyog Nagar where a massive fire broke out last month has been arrested, police said on Thursday.

Pankaj Garg was absconding since the incident and finally surrendered at Pachim Vihar West police station on Wednesday following which he was arrested, they said.

Garg’s arrest comes days after his wife Surbhi was arrested from Winter Hill Apartments, Dwarka Mor, on July 8. She was sent to judicial custody till July 22, police said.

A massive fire broke out in the building, where shoes were assembled and packed for sale, on June 21. Thirty-five fire tenders and around 140 firefighters were pressed into service to douse the blaze.

During investigation, it emerged that the two-stroey building was jointly owned by Pankaj Garg and his wife Surbhi Garg. It was found that four firms were being run in the same building. A firm named Apeksha International was run by Pankaj Garg while another firm Vivaan International was run by Surbhi besides two other firms V K International and Super Mattress, a senior police officer said.

Deputy Commissoner of Police (Outer) Parvinder Singh said, “When Pankaj Garg was questioned, he disclosed that due to competition in the shoe market, he wanted to become the lead supplier of shoes. So, he overloaded the godown at Udhyog Nagar and placed extra iron gates on windows and doors to increase storage space.

“He made modifications inside the building. Only one entry/exit gate was in operation and other gates were closed with iron gates and could not be opened. Fire extinguishers and fire alarm were also not installed in the godown to minimise expenditure.” The officer said that it was revealed that many iron slabs were made in all floors for the storage of material and objects in the godown.

He said no NOC was granted by the fire department to the owner of the building.

There was hardly any space left for any contingency situation in the building, he added.

On the day of incident, a total of 12 workers had reported for work at about 8 am in the godown and after 15 minutes fire broke out. Six among them -- Shamshed (19), Sonu (22) and his brother Vikram (21), Abhishek, Ajay Shukla (22) and Neeraj (21) were suspected to be trapped in fire in the building while other six employees were able to escape from the godown during the initial hours of the fire, police said The escaped workers told police that the stairs were also obstructed by luggage, other materials and no free exit was available from the top floor, they said.

“During investigation, it also surfaced that the six escaped employees of the godown had met with the six trapped workers and had seen them inside the building at about 8 am, immediately before the fire incident and the trapped employees were shouting for help,” the DCP said.

A case under sections 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code was registered at Paschim Vihar West police station in this regard, police said. PTI AMP AQS AQS

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