Culpable Homicide Charges Against Game Zone Partners After Deadly Blaze Kills 27

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Police have registered a First Information Report (FIR) against six partners of a game zone in Rajkot, Gujarat, on charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. Two persons have been arrested following a fire that killed 27, news agency PTI reported citing officials on Sunday. 

Rajkot Police Commission Raj Bhargava told reporters that the local police had granted a booking licence to the gaming zone in November 2023. The licence was renewed for the period from January 1 to December 31, 2024. “The game zone had received permissions from the roads and buildings department. It had also submitted proof of fire safety equipment to obtain the fire NOC, which was under process and not yet completed,” he was quoted as saying by PTI.

Despite having fire safety equipment, the measures taken to control the blaze were insufficient, leading to the tragedy on Saturday. Twenty-seven people, including four children, were killed and three others were injured in the fire at the TRP game zone in the Nana Mava locality, which was crowded with people enjoying a summer vacation outing. 

The FIR, according to PTI, stated that the accused erected a 50-metre-wide and 60-metre-long structure with the height of a two-to -three-stroey building using metal sheet fabrication to create the game zone. They did not have proper fire-fighting equipment and had not obtained a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the local fire department, thus endangering lives despite knowing the risks. 

Yuvraj Solanki, a partner in Raceway Enterprise, which operated the TRP game zone, and the facility’s manager Nitin Jain were arrested, Rajkot Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime) Parthrajsinh Gohil told PTI. 

The FIR identified the six persons against whom the case was registered: Dhaval Corporation proprietor Dhaval Thakkar, Raceway Enterprise partners Ashoksinh Jadeja, Kirtisinh Jadeja, Prakashchand Hiran, Yuvrajsinh Solanki, and Rahul Rathod. The case was also filed against others whose names may be revealed during the investigation, the PTI report said. 

The accused were charged under Indian Penal Code sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide, 337 (causing hurt by an act that endangers life or personal safety of others), 338 (causing grievous hurt by an act that endangers life or personal safety), and 114 (abettor present when the offence is committed). 

Nitin Jain’s name came up during the investigation, Gohil said. Four different teams from the crime branch were formed to apprehend the four absconding accused, Bhargava stated. 

The case was handed over to the crime branch, with a Special Investigation  Team (SIT) led by Joint Additional Commissioner of Police Vidhi Chaudhary. Additionally the Gujarat government formed a five-member SIT headed by state Additional Director General of Police Subhash Trivdedi to investigate the incident. 

“All our efforts will be to complete the investigation and file a chargesheet at the earliest. For this, a forensic science laboratory (FSL) team has reached here from Gandhinagar, and all other required actions will be taken…We have also asked the state government to appoint a special public prosecutor,” Bhargava said, as reported by PTI.

Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel visited the incident site on Sunday morning and a hospital where the injured were admitted. The CM announced an ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh to the families of each deceased and Rs 50,000 to each injured person. 

READ | Rajkot Game Zone Fire: 3 Arrested After Blaze Kills 24, Including 9 Children

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