Kamala Mills Fire: Owner of 1 Above pub roams free as manager jailed

Jan 02, 2018, 08:30 IST | Anurag Kamble

Those lower down in the pecking order face the music while the police refuse to explain how the owner of 1 Above is still a free man

BMC demolished 15 restaurants in Lower Parel, including those at Raghuvanshi Mills. Pic/Ashish Raje
BMC demolished 15 restaurants in Lower Parel, including those at Raghuvanshi Mills. Pic/Ashish Raje

Nearly a 100 hours after the Kamala Mills blaze, the BMC has broken hundreds of illegally constructed restaurants and their extensions, but the police are yet to get their first break on the whereabouts of the prime accused. After the owners of 1 Above went on the run, the cops arrested three of their kin for shielding them, but it didn’t amount to much. The police have also arrested the pub’s managers.

The Kamala Mills blaze was just one of the many mishaps in the city in 2017. File pic

The police’s inability to trace any of the main accused in the case has left them red-faced. In comparison, it took the cops just 10 hours to arrest the accused after the December 18 blaze that killed 12 at the Bhanu Farsan factory in Sakinaka. As many as 14 people died after they got trapped in the fire at 1 Above, a rooftop restaurant at Kamala Mills. The fire was fuelled by the bamboo awning and booths that were constructed illegally at the restaurant, and the emergency exit was blocked, leaving several customers with no way out.

Kamala Mills bore a deserted look on New Year's Eve, two days after the blaze. Pic/Atul Kamble

Near breakthrough
The NM Joshi Marg police have filed a case against the three owners of 1 Above — Kripesh Sanghvi, Jigar Sanghvi and Abhijit Mankar — under sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 337 and 338 (endangering life or personal safety of others), along with 34 (common intention).

The cops came closest to making an arrest in Kamala Mills blaze on New Year’s Eve, when as many as 150 policemen had stormed into a Mazgaon high-rise in a bid to nab Kripesh. After a three-hour raid of his building, however, they could not find him. Instead, they arrested his cousin and two of his uncles for harbouring fugitives. All three have since been released on bail.

Cop speak
As of now, five teams have been formed to arrest the accused, but the police are still clueless regarding their whereabouts. “We have no clue about the location of the accused. We are trying our level best to catch them,” said an officer from the investigating team. When contacted, DCP (zone III) Virendra Mishra only said, “We are trying our best to nab the accused.”

Meanwhile, the police have recorded the statements of 35 people, including employees and guests at 1 Above. The cops have also sent blood samples of the deceased, along with debris samples from the fire site, to the forensic laboratory at Kalina for chemical analysis.

Uncle gets bail
Kripesh Sanghvi’s uncle, Mahendra Sanghvi, who was detained by the police on Sunday in the case, was arrested yesterday. However, he was later released on bail. “Mahendra was in touch with the accused Kripesh. He not only assisted the accused, but also didn’t allow the police officers to enter his residence during our raid,” said an officer. Earlier, the police had arrested Rakesh Sanghvi, another uncle of Kripesh’s, along with his cousin Aditya Sanghvi. They too were granted bail the same day. Aditya reiterated their innocence. “We have not harboured the accused; in fact, we are being targeted by the cops,” he claimed.

BMC on warpath
BMC continued its massive demolition drive for the third day on Monday, tearing down 53 restaurants in Byculla (E ward) Ghatkopar (N ward) and Lower Parel (G-south). Civic officials inspected 124 establishments. In Byculla, demolitions were carried out at 20 restaurants with illegal extensions, and in Lower Parel, 15 places were razed down, including rooftop area of Sheesha Lounge at Raghuvanshi Mills. In Byculla, BMC inspected hookah parlours and seized 50 hookah pots. Staffers also seized 51 LPG cylinders stored illegally.

No. of restaurants inspected

No. of hookah pots seized

No. of places demolished on Monday

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