JAMMU HOTEL BLAZE
JAMMU: In yet another instance of Jammu and Kashmir administration having gone rudderless, Deputy Commissioner Jammu Ajit Sahu virtually mocked at the orders of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to conduct inquiry into hotel blaze in Bust Stand that claimed four lives by not submitting report even after six months.
The Chief Minister had ordered inquiry and sought report within 15 days. The hotel-Neelam Hotel cum Lodge- is owned by a senior functionary of ruling National Conference.
The mysterious fire that engulfed the hotel between the night intervening 31st May and 1st June 2014 had charred to death a police driver and three others.
In a reply to an RTI application, the Jammu Police has refused having received any inquiry report from DC Jammu so far.
To a pointed question as to what action police had taken after the Magisterial Inquiry, the police has refuted having received any report “till date.”
By hushing up the matter, the owner of the hotel, a National Conference leader, and his son have gone scot free with the bereaved families finding themselves in lurch for want of justice.
Soon after the gruesome incident, the Chief Minister had ordered a Magisterial Inquiry into the fire incident by Deputy Commissioner Jammu. However, the report was deliberately kept under the rug to favour the National Conference leader.
STATE TIMES in its edition dated 21st June had anticipated cover up in its story captioned ‘Jammu DC delays inquiry report to help NC leader”
FIR (30/14) under Sections 304-A and 337 RPC was registered at Bus-Stand police station against Romesh Chander (Hotel Manager), son of Isher Dass, resident of Akhnoor and NC leader Chander Mohan Sharma, son of Girdhari Lal Sharma, resident of Karan Nagar, Jammu, informs RTI reply.
Police further clarifies in the RTI reply that the accused namely Gourav Sarma, son of Chander Mohan Sharma, resident of 7th Palace Hill Karan Nagar, Jammu and Romesh Chander (Manager) were bailed out by the Court.
The investigation of the case is almost complete but pending for want of FSL medical reports of injured persons, states the RTI reply.
The owner of the Neelam Hotel had got permission to run it from the Director of Tourism, Jammu, replies Jammu Police on a question whether the owner had procured any NoC from JMC, Pollution Controlled Board. Traffic Police, Fire Services or any other concerned department?”
The 10-room Neelam Hotel at Jammu General Bus Stand was running illegally under the political patronage of Chander Mohan and a sitting cabinet minister who lost elections in 2009 but later on inducted as MLC to give him ministerial birth in Omar led coalition. It is said that both NC leaders are partners in this hotel.
Even the NC leader Chander Mohan’s son was not called for once to the police station when this case is a criminal case.
Father of the deceased police driver Rakesh Kumar said “If Jammu DC does not know that the hotel was running under the patronage of NC leader Chander Mohan, what is the meaning of the Magisterial Inquiry?”
“Is it only to take money and give favourable report to save the accused persons on the basis of legal lacunas?”, the father of the deceased lamented.
A lot of inflammable material, including tyres and packs of engine oil were stored in the basement of the Neelam hotel. Everyone knew about this, said Vaid Rattan, father of deceased Rakesh Kumar adding, no action was taken.
The accused NC leader Chander Mohan Sharma, who had gone underground after the incident, also runs a transport company in Jammu. The locals alleged that Sharma owns a fleet of passenger buses, which ply on Banihal route.
Every evening a long queue of buses with their tops loaded with goods remain parked at Indira Chowk. No department has ever made any inquiry.
“Majority of buses which met with accidents in the last few years on Banihal route were owned by the NC leader,” sources added.
This issue was once raised by Truckers and Load Carriers Union but the Traffic Police and Transport Department ignored these complaints. “We have been told that the DC Jammu is holding inquiry”, said a victim’s family member, adding that “The senior officers should also be made party for helping the NC leader.” Four innocents have been charred to death and a dozen have been injured. An impartial CBI inquiry must be conducted to book all the government officials, they demanded.
The deceased were Selection Grade Constable (SgCT) and driver of SSP Rajouri, Rakesh Kumar (40), son of Vaid Rattan of Kishtwar, Dhalu Ram (60), son of Nandu Ram of Machadi, tehsil Billawar, district Kathua and his son Romesh Kumar (26) and Naresh Kumar, resident of Kathua. 10 persons dozen got burn injuries in the fire.
DC Jammu Ajit Sahu, could not be contacted for his comments despite repeated calls.
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