Blast at illegal firecracker factory kills 7 in West Bengal

BJP has accused the state government of turning a blind eye to such illegal factories

NEW DELHI | Updated: 28 August, 2023 11:32 am IST
The explosion took place on Sunday morning

NEW DELHI: A powerful explosion at an illegal firecracker manufacturing unit killed the lives of seven people and injured many others in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal on Sunday.

A frantic rescue operation was launched by local authorities and the injured were rushed to the nearby Barasat hospital for urgent medical attention. There were women and children among the wounded, officials said.

The tragedy unfolded in Duttapukur area on Sunday morning. The explosion was so powerful that it severely damaged several houses in the vicinity.

West Bengal Governor CV Anand Bose is scheduled to visit the Barasat hospital where the injured are receiving treatment, following his visit to the explosion site in Duttapukur.

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In May, nine people were killed in an explosion at a firecracker factory in Egra area of East Medinipur. In the same month, another explosion at another illegal fireworks factory rocked Budge Budge area of North 24 Parganas.

On Monday, the district announced the arrest of Shafiq Ali from Nilganj village. Before starting the firework unit, Ali ran a business in partnership with Keramat Ali, who died in the explosion.

The back-to-back explosions have brought the Mamata Banerjee government under criticism for failing to reign in such illegal factories in the state.

State BJP president Sukanta Majumder said: “Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has turned Bengal into a pile of gun powder. The CM and her party bear direct responsibility for the loss of lives today. As long as they hold power, the people of Bengal will continue to suffer. One must reflect on the increasing death toll in recent times. What is the CM’s objective? Will Bengal become a burial ground under her leadership?”

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Majumder alleged that the police turned a blind eye toward such illegal factories because they paid bribes to Trinamool Congress leaders.

He has written a letter to Union home minister Amit Shah urging the initiation of an investigation by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

“These incidents have caused immense loss of life and property, and it is imperative that a thorough and impartial investigation is conducted to ascertain the causes behind these tragic events…Moreover, it is distressing to note that local residents have expressed their grievances regarding these illegal factories to the police on numerous occasions, yet their concerns seem to have gone unaddressed,” the letter reads.

However, Trinamool Congress spokesperson Kunal Ghosh dismissed Majumder’s accusations as mere finger-pointing. He contended that the lack of employment opportunities under the 100-days work scheme led to hazardous work choices, as the funds for the scheme in Bengal were allegedly frozen by the BJP-led Centre.

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