Bawana fire: North Delhi mayor Preeti Aggarwal caught on camera saying 'won't speak against the factory', sparks row

Preeti Aggarwal, the NDMC mayor, has sparked a controversy after she was caught on camera cautioning officials not to speak on Bawana fire incident.

Bawana fire: North Delhi mayor Preeti Aggarwal caught on camera saying 'won't speak against the factory', sparks row

New Delhi: Preeti Aggarwal, the Mayor of North Delhi, has courted a controversy after she was caught on camera cautioning the officials from speaking against the firecracker factory blaze in Delhi's Bawana Industrial Area in which 17 people were killed and many injured on Saturday.

In the video, which is now being widely shared on the social media, the mayor is believed to be cautioning the officials from saying anything on the matter as the factory was registered with the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC).

Aggarwal, who had visited the spot to take stock of the situation, was heard telling officials before talking to ANI, "Is factory ki license humare paas hai, isliye kuch nai bolna. (The license of this factory is with us, so we should not speak against it.)

The Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government has grabbed the opportunity to attack the BJP, which controls NDMC and said that a thorough probe would be conducted into the mater.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal yesterday said the matter will be fully probed on how the licence was given, who gave the licence and how the incident happened.

The Delhi BJP chief, however, hit back, saying the AAP should apologise for spreading lies against his party.

The owner of a firecracker unit in outer Delhi's Bawana industrial area where a massive fire broke out on Saturday resulting in the death of at least 17 people has now been arrested by the Delhi Police.

Manoj Jain, the co-owner of the unit who was taken into custody late on Saturday, has been arrested, Rohini Deputy Commissioner of Police Rajneesh Gupta informed reporters.

"Manoj Jain has been apprehended. As per the information, the two partners were there. Manoj Jain and Lalit Goel. It is to be verified whether they are the owners or have taken the premises on rent," he said.

Gupta also said that as per an injured labour of the factory, packing was being done in the factory. 

"The crackers used to come from outside," he said. The cause of the fire is not yet known," DCP Gupta said.

A man who jumped from the second floor of the building in a bid to save himself later succumbed to injuries at a hospital.

The victims were trapped in the basement, first and second floors when the fire spread from the basement to the floors above, the police officer said.

The industrial area recorded three fires on Saturday - the first around 4 pm in a carpet manufacturing company in Sector 1, the second in the firecracker unit in Sector 5, and the third in Sector 3 at 7.30 pm.

"We had received three calls. One was from 3:55 at Sector 1 from a carpet manufacturing company, the second was at 6:20 from bomb storage factory and third was at 7:30 from Sector 3," said GC Mishra director, Delhi Fire Department.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal yesterday visited the incident spot and ordered an inquiry into the Bawana Industrial area fire. 

"It is an unfortunate incident. The Delhi government has ordered an inquiry into it. After inquiry, we will get to know the reason of the fire," he said.

"The loss is irreparable. The Delhi government will give an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakhs to the family of the people, killed in the fire and Rs 1 lakh to the injured," he announced.

The bodies of the deceased people have been sent for post-mortem, while injured have been admitted to the hospital, the Chief Minister said.

Union Minister Harsh Vardhan, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Manoj Tiwari and Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta and North Delhi Municipal Corporation Mayor Preety Agarwal also reached the spot.

Meanwhile, Union Health Minister JP Nadda directed Health Secretary to provide immediate assistance to victims of the fire tragedy and also asked AIIMS Trauma Centre to be on alert.

North Delhi Mayor Preety Aggarwal later said that the situation is now under control.

"I received information about the incident on phone at around 9 pm and we immediately rushed to the spot. The situation is under control now," she told media. 

Delhi Industries Minister Satyendar Jain also took cognizance of the tragedy and tweeted, "Learnt about a serious fire incident in a private factory at Bawana. Several casualties. Monitoring the situation. Have ordered an inquiry."

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also expressed grief over it and said, "My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives. May those who are injured recover quickly." 

Meanwhile, a blame game has also started between BJP and the AAP over the tragedy with the latter blaming the former for granting license to the factory owners without proper verification and keeping mum after the incident. 

The bodies have been kept in the mortuary for identification. The relatives of some of the deceased and the injured have been informed.

(With Agency inputs)