Rajkot Police Commissioner Transferred After Fire At Gaming Zone Kills 28

2 weeks ago 10

Rajkot Police Commissioner Transferred After Fire At Gaming Zone Kills 28

Rajkot gaming zone incident: The fire on Saturday killed 28 people.

New Delhi:

Rajkot police chief Raju Bhargava has been transferred days after a horrific fire at a gaming zone in the city killed 28 people, including nine children. He has not been given a new post at this time.

He will be replaced by Brajesh Kumar Jha, the Special Commissioner of Police from Ahmedabad.

Apart from Mr Bhargava, Rajkot City's Additional Commissioner of Police (Administration, Traffic, and Crime) Vidhi Choudhary, has also been moved out, and has also not yet received a new post. In her place comes Mahendra Bagria, ex-Deputy Inspector General for the Kutchh-Bhuj (West) zone.

Also, Sudhirkumar Desai, who was Deputy Commissioner of Police (Rajkot City, Zone 2) has been dropped for Jagdish Bangwara, formerly the Superintendent of Vadodara's Central Prison.

Like Mr Bhargava and Ms Choudhary, Mr Desai has also not been given a new post, at this time.

READ | Nine Children Among 28 Dead In Fire At Gujarat Gaming Zone

The changes came hours after the Gujarat High Court ripped into the Rajkot civic body and the state government for not ensuring the game zone (the one that burned, a second in the city, and three in Ahmedabad) received mandatory certifications, including those for fire safety and building codes.

The court was furious when told that the two gaming zones in Rajkot had been operating - for over 24 months each - without the required permits, and said it could no longer "trust" the state government, which is controlled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party.

"This has been going on for two-and-a-half years (referring to the Rajkot gaming zone). Are we to assume you turned a blind eye? What do you and your followers do?" the court thundered.

The Rajkot gaming zone, it has emerged, was granted a license by local cops in November last year, which was renewed to December 31, 2024, Mr Bhargava had admitted on Sunday.

READ | "Don't Trust Gujarat Government": High Court On Rajkot Fire Lapses

The court also criticised the state government.

"Have you gone blind? Did you fall asleep? Now we do not trust the local system and the state," the court raged when told fire safety certification hearings have been unresolved for four years.

Told about three establishments in Ahmedabad that do not follow fire safety regulations, and that the rules say a gaming zone is not allowed without a NOC from the city's fire department, an irate High Court shot back, "Then this rule was not followed in Rajkot..."

READ | "Can't Run Game Zone At Cost Of Children Being Killed": Court

The court also lamented the loss of children, telling the Gujarat government, "This incident is an eye-opener. System's eyes have opened after the death of innocent children." The court directed the BJP to file, as an affidavit, the report to be submitted, by Wednesday, by a special investigative team.

Rajkot Gaming Zone Fire

On Saturday a massive blaze was reported from the Rajkot gaming zone.

READ | Welding Sparks May Have Caused Fire At Gujarat Gaming Zone

CCTV footage - which NDTV has not verified independently - showed a fire starting during welding work; sparks fell on plastic that caught fire and could not be contained by panic-stricken workers.

The fire may have also been the result of an electrical short circuit, sources said.

However, it started, as the fire spread a temporary structure collapsed near the entrance, trapping a number of people. The facility had only one emergency exit.

There was some fire safety equipment but action taken was insufficient, cops have said.

READ | Bodies Burnt Beyond Recognition In Rajkot Fire, DNA Samples Taken

The blaze burnt so fiercely that many of the bodies recovered could not be identified, forcing authorities to rely on DNA testing to identify the dead.

Three Arrested, Six Suspended

This morning six officials, including two police officers and three civic body officials - were suspended for "gross negligence". A police case - with charges of culpable homicide - has been filed against the six partners who owned the gaming zone; two of the three partners have been arrested so far.

Overall, three arrests have been made; the third is the manager of the game zone.

Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel has announced aid of Rs 4 lakh each to the families of those killed and Rs 50,000 each to the injured. Mr Modi has said he is "extremely distressed" by the tragedy.

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