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Rajkot fire tragedy: SIT submits report, finds lapses; suggests changes in Gujarat Police Act

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AHMEDABAD, June 21: A Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Gujarat government to probe the May 25 Rajkot game zone fire incident, which claimed 27 lives, submitted its interim report on Friday to Minister of State for Home Harsh Sanghavi in Gandhinagar.

In its 100-page interim report, the SIT, headed by senior IPS officer Subhash Trivedi, has suggested some changes to Section 33 of Gujarat Police Act (GP Act), which empowers local police to give various licenses to such game zones.

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“We submitted an interim report to the government today. We found lapses on the part of the police, fire department, town planning and Road and Building department. We have collected relevant evidence about their negligence and drawn the government’s attention towards it through our report,” Trivedi said.

“The SIT has suggested some changes to section 33 of the Gujarat Police Act, under which local police gives premises license and ticket license to such recreation facilities. We will not spare the guilty. The SIT probe is still on. We are currently investigating the roles played by senior police as well as civic officials,” he told reporters.

During a hearing on a suo motu PIL taken up by the Gujarat High Court over the game zone fire, senior advocate Amit Panchal on June 13, citing photos available on social media, informed the bench that the then Superintendent of Police of Rajkot, district collector, municipal commissioner of Rajkot and District Development Officer had attended the inaugural ceremony of TRP Game Zone.

Chief Justice Sunita Agarwal had then slammed the government and asked why no action was taken against these senior officials who had attended the opening ceremony of TRP Game Zone.

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Asked about the allegations, Trivedi said these officers went there nearly one year after it was opened.

“We have already questioned four IAS and one IPS officer who had visited the game zone in the past and got themselves clicked there. These officers told the SIT they went there with their family members in March 2022 to celebrate the birthday of one of the officers. It was not the opening event of the game zone as is being claimed,” said Trivedi.

The SIT will interrogate other IAS and IPS officers if needed before concluding the probe, the official asserted.

As many as 27 persons, including children, were charred to death in a massive fire which gutted the entire facility on May 25. A subsequent investigation by police revealed the game zone was running without a no objection certificate (NOC) from the fire department of the Rajkot Municipal Corporation.

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Following the incident, the state government formed an SIT under Trivedi to find out the causes of fire, loopholes in the system and to suggest steps to be taken to prevent such incidents in the future.

The state government recently informed the Gujarat High Court that the SIT will submit its final report by June 20 and further action will be taken accordingly.

So far, police have arrested five owners of the game zone and six government officials in connection with the fire. (PTI)






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