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Bag unit sealed

Calcutta, Dec. 29: Police yesterday raided and sealed the ground-floor leather factory at 33C Topsia Road — where a fire had claimed 11 lives early on November 22 — and arrested owner Mohammad Zafarullah for flouting the norms.

The raid followed a report in The Telegraph on how a leather bag manufacturing unit — Shama Creation — was at work behind closed doors on the ground floor of the building declared illegal and unsafe a month ago.

“Officers from Tangra police station raided the leather factory and arrested the owner. It is strange how the owner started operations on the ground floor of the illegal building despite a ban following the fire mishap,” said S.N. Gupta, superintendent of police (South 24-Parganas).

According to an officer, work was in progress behind closed doors when the bag-manufacturing unit was raided. “There were 13 workers, including children, mostly from South 24-Parganas and Murshidabad, working over 16 hours a day,” the officer added.

A team of civic officials also inspected the illegal building yesterday and issued a stop-work notice. “Stern action will be taken against owners of leather factories for flouting the norms. We have issued a fresh notice that no work should be carried out inside the illegal building,” said mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya.

Local residents alleged that work at 33C Topsia Road had resumed following a nod from local Trinamul Congress MLA Javed Khan and police had deliberately turned a blind eye.

When contacted, Khan rubbished the charge. “I had told the owners of leather factories in the area to stop work immediately, but they started operations with help from police,” he countered.

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