22 months on, panel begins recording statements

Oct 24 2013, 05:02 IST
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SummaryA judicial commission set up to probe into the incident began recording statements of victims’ family members Wednesday.

More than 22 months after 92 people were killed in the AMRI Hospital fire, Kolkata, December 9, 2011, a judicial commission set up to probe into the incident began recording statements of victims’ family members Wednesday.

A total of 90 patients and two nurses were suffocated to death in the fire, following which a judicial commission under Justice Tapan Mukherjee — a retired Calcutta High Court judge — was set up by the state December 15, 2011.

After 22 months, the commission for the first time Wednesday summoned four persons who had lost their kin. However, only two appeared before the commission.

An official of the commission admitted that it took some time to complete official work, but failed to specify the cause for the delay in recording the statements.

The commission was to probe into the incident, recommend legal action against those responsible for violating fire and safety norms, and ascertain the cause of such a large number of deaths. It would be the task of the commission to find out the cause of fire, said a counsel of the commission.

Advocate Suman Sengupta said two persons Subhasish Chakraborty and Sugandha Narayanan told the commission that there was no effort on the part of the hospital staff to rescue the patients, instead it was the locals who came to their rescue.

The Special Investigating Team of Kolkata Police had filed chargesheets against 16 persons, including 12 directors and four high-level officials of the hospital. The chargesheet cited serious negligence on the part of the director and the officials, but did not specify the cause of the fire.

The chargesheet at one place states that some glowing object was thrown in the linen dumped in the upper basement of the building. At an another place, it states that the fire might have broken out from the standalone AC in the upper basement from where smoke was seen billowing out first.

The chargesheet, which is pending in the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court, also does not rule out the possibility of an accidental fire.

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