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Fire shocker at high court, lawyers fume

- No injuries; computers and furniture gutted in blaze that took three hours to douse after a short circuit

Ranchi, June 7: A fire broke out at Jharkhand High Court in the capital’s Doranda area this morning, gutting computers, furniture, files and other valuables worth lakhs, underscoring yet again the need to overhaul the safety apparatus at courts across the state.

Thankfully, there were no injuries as the high court was closed for summer vacations. But it took 12 fire fighters and two fire tenders more than three hours to control the blaze on the first floor of the two-storied building.

An official first detected the fire, said to have been caused by a short circuit, in a room designated court number 13, off late being used as a chamber for personal assistants’ (PAs) and not for hearings.

Soon after, senior court employees called up the Doranda fire station, hardly a kilometre away, which sent two fire tenders.

The blaze was ultimately doused by 12.30pm.

Officials present on the premises said as many as 50 computers that were lined up in the chamber along with printers, batteries and accessories were gutted.

Besides, the high-pressure water jets used by the firemen also damaged electronic equipment.

“The fire broke out in the concealed wiring under the wood panelling just behind a podium where judges used to sit. The entire panel has been burnt along with computers and several pieces of furniture. Some files kept in the room were also partially burnt,” said an eyewitness.

Although sources pegged the losses at nothing less than Rs 10 lakh, assistant registrar (protocol and court office) Mihtilesh Kumar gave a much conservative estimate.

“Though the damages are being assessed, a preliminary assessment done by us suggests that around five computers worth hardly a lakh got burnt in the incident,” he said.

Officials at the Doranda fire station said they received information about the blaze around 9.28am and lost no time in sending a team of 12 firemen with two fire tenders.

“It appears that the short circuit occurred somewhere in the air-conditioner. The court officials had initially tried to douse the flames with fire extinguishers but weren’t successful as they aren’t trained for the job,” said fire fighter Hawildar Dinkar, who was a part of the team.

The gutted room, where around 30 to 40 employees sit on a given day, was earlier used by Justice Aparesh Singh who has since moved to room 6.

Advocate Arvind Kumar Lal expressed concern and fear over the incident.

“Security and safety arrangements are still a far cry at Jharkhand’s courts, which are a high-security zone. If the main circuit breaker and fire alarm had worked properly, such an incident could have been averted,” Lal added.

That Jharkhand’s courts aren’t safe came to the fore on May 24 when two youths tried to shoot at gangster Akhilesh Singh inside the Jamshedpur civil court where he had gone to surrender after the expiry of his two-month parole.

The audacious murder bid enraged the legal fraternity that called for sweeping measures to beef up vigil across court premises.

The East Singhbhum district administration also started taking steps to ensure foolproof security at the civil court.


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