Watchmen hold key to inferno inquiry

Published: 30 November, 2011 07:25 IST | Nivedita Dargalkar and Faisal G Tandel |

Cops are interrogating 15 security guards stationed at the premises in an attempt to determine the precise place and root of the fire that engulfed the markets

Cops are interrogating 15 security guards stationed at the premises in an attempt to determine the precise place and root of the fire that engulfed the markets

With no major breakthrough on the source of the fire at the Sara-Sahara and Manish market, the police and fire brigade officials are flummoxed trying to ascertain the cause of blaze. While the police are working round the clock to determine the cause, security guards stationed outside the complex on the night of the fire are now key witnesses in the investigation.

In trouble? The security guards Tayyez Ali, RK Chaudhary and Ghulam
Ali were stationed at the Sara-Sahara and Manish Market when the fire
occurred on Saturday night

Shivaji Fadtare, police inspector of MRA Marg police station, said, "We are interrogating 15 security guards who were stationed outside Sara-Sahara and Manish markets on that fateful night. We have also recorded the statements of 100 shop-owners."

Senior Police Inspector Padmakar Juikar of MRA Marg police station added, "Our sole objective first is to find out where and how the fire started. Only after establishing that, the investigation can proceed in the right direction. We are co-coordinating with the BMC and the fire-brigade officials as well."

Meanwhile, security guards who were on duty on that fateful night spoke to MiD DAY narrating the sequence of events that they witnessed.

Security supervisor Babubhai Nirulla, who was stationed outside Sara-Sahara market on the fateful night, said, "The fire started inside chapri no 4 that is located next to Sara-Sahara market. Seeing salesmen Sameer and Niuddin, who work and stay overnight in one of the shops, shouting and fleeing the spot, we questioned them. They informed us about the fire. At the same time, a sweeper who sweeps the market area during the night noticed the flames and alerted all the security guards after which we all ran to safety."

However, when probed further about the event, Nirulla didn't divulge much as he said that his boss has instructed him not to disclose much.

Another security guard Tayyez Ali who was also stationed outside Sara-Sahara market said, "As usual I reported to work around 8 pm on Friday night. At around 3.30 am on Saturday morning, we saw the flames. But by the time we could react, the place had already caught fire and it was too late. Mobile batteries and perfumes bottles were exploding and we ourselves had to rush to safety."

Another security guard, Ghulam Ali said, "I do not know how the fire started. All of a sudden we saw huge flames of fire engulf the area. We then informed our security supervisor who in turn alerted the shop-owners."

Sudharkar Holam, the security guard who was stationed outside Manish market said, "First the fire started at Sara-Sahara market, I called up my manager and informed him about the fire. He asked us to be alert.

However, after a few minutes I noticed that the sheds of shops at Manish market had also caught fire and I called up the manager again and he instructed us to rush to safety."

A shopkeeper at Sara-Sahara market on condition of anonymity said, "The security guards light a bonfire every night to protect themselves from the cold weather. This bonfire may have set off the fire that engulfed
the area on Saturday."

However, the security guards denied that they lit a bonfire on Friday night.

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