City Kinara blaze, one year on: Families to decry 'shoddy' probe at protest today

(From left) Sharjeel Shaikh, Brian Fernando, Sajid Chowdhari and Akash Thapar who were killed in the fire
(From left) Sharjeel Shaikh, Brian Fernando, Sajid Chowdhari and Akash Thapar who were killed in the fire

A silent candlelight march will be held today to mark the first death anniversary of the eight persons, mostly students, who died in a blaze at a small Kurla eatery, Hotel City Kinara, and protest the “shoddy investigation” into the case.

Andheri-based lawyer and activist Godfrey Peminta, whose numerous RTI applications have revealed how the fire brigade, HPCL and the PWD have cited three different causes for the outbreak of the fire, said the rally will be taken out from City Kinara to Don Bosco College in Kurla (where five of the victims studied) to “express the [victims’] families’ dismay over the shoddy probe into the case”, and protest the failure to initiate action against illegal gas cylinder providers. “We have obtained police permission for the rally, and are expecting a few hundred participants.”

Also Read: Mumbai hotel blaze: A terrible tragedy that could've been worse

mid-day had on August 14 highlighted concerns raised by Pimenta and the families of the victims. They were wary that conflicting theories would derail the prosecution’s case.

Demand for fair probe
Demanding a fair and transparent probe, Andheri resident Jalil Shaikh (50), father of Sharjeel who died in the fire, said, “We have no faith in the probe conducted so far. And, without knowing the cause of the fire, we cannot even demand compensation.”

Pimenta and the families had earlier approached the Lokayukta, demanding a reinvestigation.

Shaikh said he will first attend a prayer for Bernadette D’Souza (18), who, too, died on that tragic day, at 9 am at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, Sion, and then offer prayers at his son’s grave at the Four Bungalows kabrastan in Andheri.

Jacinta D’Souza, Bernadette’s mother, said, “How can parents cope with their children’s deaths? We have to live with this pain for the rest of our lives. We want justice.”

'BMC action eyewash'
Dubbing the BMC’s crackdown on small eateries in the wake of the fire an eyewash, Pimenta said, “As per media reports, it seized 3,405 illegal LPG cylinders from 26,270 eateries in seven months. Over 1,495 illegal cylinders belonging to HPCL and an equal number of BPCL were returned to the respective petroleum companies. But no action was initiated by the police, the BMC or the petroleum companies against illegal cylinder suppliers.”

Read Story: Mumbai hotel fire: No one has taken responsibility for accident, say victims' kin

He alleged that M/s Laxmi Gas Agency, which supplied illegal LPG cylinders to Kinara — an RTI reply from HPCL says the eatery was not its consumer — indulged in black- marketing. Yet, HPCL has not initiated any action — as recommended by the fire brigade — against it.

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