Two operators of a coaching institute in Mukherjee Nagar were arrested and later released on bail following a fire incident, police said.
The fire, which broke out at Bhandari House in Mukherjee Nagar’s Batra Complex, put the lives of numerous students at risk, raising concerns about fire safety standards in buildings throughout the densely populated area, known for its abundance of coaching centers.
According to police, the two men were charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including those related to endangering the safety of others and criminal conspiracy. The Deputy Commissioner of Police (northwest), Jitendra Meena, stated that the men were booked under sections 336, 337, 338, 120B, and 34 at the Mukherjee Nagar Police Station. As part of the investigation, statements were recorded from 12 students and four staff members.
In addition, the police mentioned the possibility of using 3-D laser scans to reconstruct the scene of the fire. The individuals arrested, identified as Shivesh Mishra and Shyam Sunder Bharti, both residents of Delhi, were associated with coaching institutes operating from the Bhandari House. Mishra served as the CEO of one of the institutes, while Bharti was the owner of another.
During inspections conducted by the fire department following the incident, it was discovered that the building lacked fire safety equipment. Fire department officials also noted a delay of approximately 10 to 15 minutes in reporting the fire. The first call was received at 12:27 pm, while the fire had started around 12:15 pm. It is suspected that the coaching staff and locals attempted to extinguish the fire themselves. Fire tenders arrived at the scene within nine minutes of receiving the call.
Subsequently, the Delhi High Court took suo motu cognizance of the incident and directed the authorities to assess the safety status of all coaching institutes in the city. A bench of Justices Jasmeet Singh and Vikas Mahajan issued a notice to the Delhi Fire Service Department, requesting an examination of the fire safety certificates of all coaching centers. The bench also sought the opinions of the fire department, Delhi Police, and Municipal Corporation of Delhi regarding the matter, including an evaluation of the approved building plans for such establishments.
Eleven fire tenders were deployed to extinguish the fire, believed to have originated from a short circuit in the main switchboard. At the time of the incident, approximately 250 students were attending classes in the five-storey building. Out of the 61 students taken to hospitals for treatment, 50 were discharged on Thursday, while the remaining students continued to receive medical care.
Mukherjee Nagar serves as a coaching hub for individuals aspiring to secure government jobs and is a popular area for students from the nearby Delhi University campus to gather.