Top civic officials, others held for illegal construction
After the arrest of the two builders Abdul Qureshi and Salim Shaikh for constructing the seven-storey building in contraventions to laws, interrogations revealed the involvement of Thane deputy municipal commissioner and six other public servants in the illegal construction. The two builders disclosed that these officials were engaged in the entire conspiracy of the illegal construction, which caved in, killing 72 people.
The officials were arrested and have been identified as Deepak Chavan, deputy municpal commissioner, Babasaheb Andhare, assistant municipal commissioner, Kisan Madke, senior clerk in Thane municpal corporation (TMC), Hera Patil, local corporator, Afsal Ansari, a building material supplier, Jahangir Sayyed, police constable, and middleman Sayad Jabbar Patel.
According to the police officials, 74 people (29 children, 25 men, 20 women) died while 62 people were injured in the collapse of the building. According to the Thane police commissioner AK Raghuvanshi, after the construction of each floor the builders had allotted possession of flats to residents so that to make it difficult for the corporation demolition squad to scrap the illegal building.
“During the course of the construction, the two builders had given money to many senior officials who misused power and allowed the construction to continue without taking permission from higher civic officials,” Raghuvanshi said. “After that they didn’t construct the building properly. They were aware that the building might collapse any day. I do not know the exact amount given to these officials but the dealing has been in lakhs.”
“Thane police along with the Anti-Corruption Bureau searched the house of Deepak Chavan and found Rs 5 lakh in cash along with some property papers. The middleman Patel played a major role in the conspiracy,” the Thane police chief said.
The arrested accused have been booked under sections 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 336 (endangering life or personal safety of others), 337 (causing hurt), 338 (causing grievous hurt), 308 (attempt to culpable homicide), 120-b (punishment of criminal conspiracy), 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance) of the Indian Penal Code and section 13 (i) and (d) of the Anti-Corruption Bureau.