The N.M. Joshi Marg police probing the fatal blaze at the 1 Above and Mojo’s Bistro pubs in Kamala Mills have found that even basic safety precautions were not followed and this could have played a large role in the number of fatalities. Police have registered a case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder against the three owner partners of 1 Above.The fire broke out at 1 Above at around 12.27 a.m. on Friday and raged on for nearly six hours before it could be brought under control. Eleven women, including a 28-year-old celebrating her birthday, and three men died in the blaze.Soon after the blaze was extinguished at around 6.23 a.m, fire officials, along with police and civic officials, entered the burned remains of Trade House, where the pub was located, to conduct inquiries into the possible cause. Police teams were also sent to the KEM Hospital in Parel, where the survivors were taken for treatment and the more seriously injured were admitted, to record their statements.Emergency exit lockedBy around 10 a.m, the police’s inquiries had established that even basic measures were not taken by 1 Above to ensure the safety of patrons in case of an emergency like a fire, officers said.“The specifics of the fire safety precautions undertaken by the establishments will be verified in the days to come. We have found that the emergency exit at 1 Above, which should have been used by the customers, was locked. This, by itself, is a gross violation,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Virendra Mishra, Zone VIII, said.Hookah angleBased on their preliminary findings, the police booked Ritesh Sanghvi, Jigar Sanghvi and Abhijeet Manka, directors of the C Grade Hospitality and Entertainment LLP that owns 1 Above. Sources said the Sanghvis were detained later on Friday and were being questioned till late in the night.The police are also verifying whether the presence of hookahs contributed in any way to the fatalities or to the intensity of the blaze. According to law, hookahs cannot be made available in the same area where food and drink are served. There has to be a separate area, like a smoking zone, for hookah.
Several leading newspapers in the Kashmir Valley ran their editorial spaces blank on Tuesday in protest against the killing of journalist and editor of daily Rising Kashmir Shujaat Bukhari.A spokesman of the Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG) said the decision to leave the space blank was taken in a meeting on Monday afternoon “to lodge a strong protest against the killing of the scribe”.The editorial space of all major English dailies like Greater Kashmir, Kashmir Times, Kashmir Observer and Kashmir Monitor were left blank.Bukhari, 50, was assassinated by at least three gunmen on June 14 outside his office. His two security guards were also killed in the attack. The Kashmir Press Club’s coordination committee also held a condolence meeting in Srinagar. “The members said that the entire journalistic fraternity of Kashmir is yet to come out of the shock of Shujaat’s killing and does not know how the void created by the brutal murder will be filled,” said the spokesman.Meanwhile, Director General of Police S.P. Vaid said the police has laid hands on “crucial leads in the case”.The Separatist Joint Resistance Leadership called for a complete strike on Thursday against the killing of Bukhari.