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Mall official held for death

An official of South City Mall has been arrested for the collapse of the ladder that left a worker dead and three others injured on Sunday.

Deputy general manager (operations) Dip Biswas, who was overseeing the labourers’ work, was questioned for several hours before being arrested. He has been remanded in police custody till January 17.

Biswas has been charged under IPC sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide) and 114 (abetment to offence). If proved guilty, he could be jailed for life.

“Biswas was innocent. We have photographs and video footage showing that we had taken all precautions. The accident that killed a worker (Ashok Halder) resulted from a laxity of the private contractor hired for the upkeep,” said a mall official.

On Sunday, the police had started a case against the mall authorities and a private agency. On Monday, however, they put the entire onus on the management, saying there is no proof that any agency was involved in the upkeep.

“The mall authorities have failed to show us any document related to the hiring of an agency. They are blaming a labour contractor for the accident,” said an officer of Jadavpur police station.

The police also accused the mall management of erasing evidence. “They had cleared the accident site and the blood stains even before the police arrived,” said an officer.

The officer said the authorities were aware that proper precautions were not taken when the workers were tying buntings standing on the scaffold that was at least 80ft high. “Usually such work involving large metal structures is not allowed when the mall is open,” said the officer.

According to safety procedures, a worker climbing a metal scaffold should wear a helmet, safety gloves and anti- skid boots. “The workers were wearing helmets but they were not strapped to the chin,” an officer said.

The safety belt attached to the body should be tied either to the roof or some other fixed object. “At the mall, the belts were tied to the scaffold railing. So when the metal structure collapsed, the workers, too, fell,” the officer stated. The police have also found that the scaffold was moved while the workers were on it, a violation of the safety norm.

The three injured workers — Debabrata Halder, Biswajit Naiya and Bhagaban Sardar — are recovering after surgery.