Surat: The police on Saturday filed an FIR against three people in connection with the fire that broke out in a four-storey commercial complex in Gujarat’s Surat on Friday (May 24), killing at least 20 students. Several students jumped off the third and fourth floor of the building in a bid to save their lives.

In the FIR, the police have named builders of the complex- Harshal Vekaria and Jignesh, and Bhargav Bhutani – the owner of the coaching centre, news agency ANI reported.

“Police registered an FIR under various sections (of the Indian Penal Code) against three persons last night. They include two builders and the owner of the coaching class. We have arrested one person. 20 persons have so far died in the incident,” Surat Police Commissioner Satish Sharma told reporters. “We have already arrested Butani. Hunt is on to nab the remaining two,” he added.

Addressing the media, he also informed that all type of tuition classes have been stopped for now, classes can only be conducted after the required fire safety checks are done and a fire safety certificate has been obtained.

What Eye-witnesses Claim

Recounting the horror, the eye-witnesses informed ANI about a major laxity on the part of the fire department. Not just one but several others claimed that the fire brigade arrived at the spot 40-45 minutes after receiving the information. A witness Ajay Patel, whose office is opposite the building that caught fire, said that the fire brigade came 30-35 minutes late. “The pressure of their pipe was too low to douse the flame,” he claimed.

Another witness and the father of a rescued girl, Paresh Patel, claimed that the fire brigade from the fire fire station, which is not more than 2 km away, took almost 45 minutes to come.

Gujarat CM Orders Investigation

Ordering an investigation into the incident, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani announced financial assistance of Rs 4 lakh each to the families of the deceased children. Speaking to media outside the hospital where the injured were admitted, the CM said, “I’m told that due to fire in the staircase, several people jumped from the 4th floor of the building to escape. Have ordered enquiry.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also expressed anguish over the unfateful incident. “Extremely anguished by the fire tragedy in Surat. My thoughts are with bereaved families. May the injured recover quickly. Have asked the Gujarat Government and local authorities to provide all possible assistance to those affected,” he tweeted.

Briefing about the incident, Surat Police Commissioner Satish Kumar Mishra revealed that over 50 students were present inside the building at the time of the incident and 20 students have been safely evacuated.

On Friday evening, a major fire broke out in the Takshashila Arcade building in the Sarthana area. At the time of the incident, classes of a coaching institute were being held on the top floor of the building. As many as 18 fire tenders were rushed to the spot to douse the flames.