11 Dead, 200 Injured; Rescue Called Off; Officials Shuffled; Owners Arrested

Bhopal: The rescue operation launched at the firecracker factory in Harda in Madhya Pradesh that was blown up in a devastating blaze and blast on Tuesday killing 11 people and injuring over 200 others, was called off on Wednesday afternoon, officials said. Meanwhile in the late evening development, Harda district superintendent of police (SP) Sanjeev Kumar Kanchan was on Wednesday shunted out of his post and posted in police headquarters. The state government also placed the factory inspector of Sagar division, Navin Kumar Barba, under suspension for dereliction of duty. The debris of the collapsed factory buildings and the burnt firecrackers at the mishap site was cleared with the help of JCB machines to find out if any victim still remained buried under it. The rescue operation was finally called off at around five pm on Wednesday, officials said. No fresh death was reported in the incident on Wednesday, local sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) K C Parte said. Meanwhile, the two owners of the factory Rajesh Agrawal and Somesh Agrawal and one of their alleged associates Rafiq Khan alias Manni Patel who were arrested late on Tuesday night were on Wednesday produced before the local chief judicial magistrate court in Harda which remanded them to judicial custody. Chief minister Mohan Yadav visited the injured in the district hospital in Harda. He also held discussions with the local administration to take stock of the situation. “ Exemplary punishment will be given to the guilty in the incident”, he said. A Congress team headed by the state party president Jitu Patwari visited the injured people in hospital in Harda and interacted with the family members of the victims in the incident. Mr Patwari blamed the local administration for the incident. He feared that more people might have been killed in the incident since dozens of workers were working in the factory at the time of incident. He also alleged that the local administration was trying to hide the actual death toll in the incident. Incidentally, the cracker factory promoter Rajesh Agrawal along with one Dinesh Sharma, owner of the land on which the facility was set up, were sentenced to ten years imprisonment by a local court in July, 2021 following the death of two people in the blast in the factory in 2015. However, they were released on bail one and half months later. The licence of the factory was suspended in October last year for violation of factory rules and lack of safety measures. However, the factory continued to function despite this.



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