The Crime Branch of Delhi police on Monday collected evidence from the building gutted in a major fire in Anaj Mandi area and used the 3D laser scan technology to reconstruct for investigation the fire incident at the four-storey structure that killed 43 people. This is the second time that Delhi police is using the technology for investigation, after it had used it for probe after a massive fire in Karol Bagh’s Hotel Arpit Palace in Feb that killed 17 people.
"To simulate the crime scene thoroughly and ensuring that there is no loss of evidence, we are using the high-tech method to investigate on how, why, where and when the fire started. Earlier, the technology was used in Karol Bagh incident," a senior police officer said.
The 3D imagining will also be used to capture the area outside the building to understand how many exit and entry points were available when the fire occurred, the officer added. The 3D laser scanning of the place has been done partially, he said.
During the Karol Bagh incident, the technology had helped police conclude that the hotel building construct was not in accordance with the plan approved by authorities and identify the exact areas where the construction plan was manipulated, said Suparna Verma of the technology providing firm FARO. "Each camera of the equipment (being used) can record 360 degree images," she added.
A team from the Forensic Science Laboratory also visited the scene and collected samples from the building, where a number of illegal manufacturing units operated and flammable raw material such as cardboard boxes, plastic sheets and rexine were stored.
Sanjeev Gupta, head of crime scene management, said a 10-member team, comprising members from physics, chemistry, biology and photography departments of FSL, visited the spot. Sources said burnt items like toys, clothes, cardboard and mirrors collected will help in ascertaining whether any chemical triggered the blaze.
"Our team has done an exhaustive study of the crime scene for three-four hours and has successfully covered the entire area and collected the samples. Photography of the four-storey building was also done," said FSL Director Deepa Verma.
She added that an electric short-circuit could have led to the incident. However, the exact cause of fire will only be ascertained after the analysis report is available. "Analysis of samples will be our priority and our experts have also checked the entire location for presence of inflammable fire objects and availability of biological samples likes tissues or flesh in case DNA profiling is required. We constituted the team depending on the scene of crime," Verma added.
According to police, all the deceased have been identified and post-mortem of 20 people have been done. Statements of seven injured person and nine other witnesses have been taken. Police said they have also written to other agencies for their inputs.
A Delhi Fire Service official said a four-member team from Uttar Pradesh Fire Service also visited the site and studied it thoroughly, so that they could prepare themselves to tackle a situation like this. He said the UP team spoke to fire-fighters involved in the operation on Sunday.
Meanwhile, a Delhi court sent the building owner, Rehan, and the manager, Furkan, to 14-day police custody. Police have charged the two under IPC sections for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and negligent conduct with respect to fire. The case was transferred to the Crime Branch.
The accused arrested and the survivors of the fire tragedy will be taken to the Anaj Mandi building for their inputs to recreate the scene when the fire broke out, a police officer said. During inspection, it was found that no fire-fighting equipment was available in the building. There was no panic alarm or safety manual, a senior police officer said.
More than six manufacturing units operated from the four-storey building and police will ask other owners of the units to join the investigation, he said. Police said they have written letters to the civic agency to verify the status of licence and other clearances required to operate manufacturing units in the building.
The Delhi government has ordered a magisterial probe into the tragedy, the worst fire accident in the national capital since the 1997 Uphaar cinema blaze that claimed 59 lives, and sought a report within seven days.