The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Delhi-type demolish plea reaches court

Calcutta, Nov. 24: The fire that ravished the third floor of 33C Topsia Road early on Wednesday and claimed 10 lives has now reached the courtrooms.

Mafizul Haque, a resident of Rajpur in South 24-Parganas, has filed a public interest litigation in Calcutta High Court seeking an order to demolish all illegal buildings in Calcutta.

“Delhi High Court has already passed an order for demolition of unauthorised buildings of the capital. Calcutta High Court should pass a similar order in the aftermath of the incident that took 10 lives,” Haque said.

His petition is likely to come up for hearing next week.

As the case moved into court, politicians of all hues hotfooted it to the city’s sweatshop hub. Mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya was the first to visit the area to announce compensation “without any delay”.

His caravan left amid “Inqilab zindabad” chants of CPM activists while the workers in the sweatshops went about their business of earning their daily bread.

Supporters of DYFI, the CPM’s youth wing, followed, arriving before the Friday prayers, and plastered posters on the blaze building, blaming Trinamul Congress leader and local MLA Javed Ahmed Khan for allowing illegal construction in the area.

Union steel minister Ram Vilas Paswan was next. “I will try my best to arrange for compensation…. I will have a word with Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee,” promised Paswan, the day’s biggest crowd-puller.

Trinamul stamped its presence in the evening with a rally and a deputation to Tiljala police station demanding immediate compensation.

At Writers’ Buildings, industry minister Nirupam Sen said all Topsia tanneries were illegal. “We will ask police to stop operation of tanneries.”

Not a word on how they have been allowed to conduct business, with trade licences from the civic body, so far.

No political party voiced the demand for decent wages and better working conditions. The 10 workers died as they were locked up inside the factory for the night, a practice prevalent in the entire area.

“They came, saw and left with hollow promises. What more can we expect from these leaders'” asked Mohammed Akram, a teacher.

The police hadn’t any success either in hunting down the owner of the building or the factory.

Only the search of the Sheikhs from Murshidabad ended at Kantapukur morgue after more than 72 hours. Nizam Sheikh was handed over a charred mass of flesh and bones as the remains of his son Nayan.

“I want the ordeal to end…It is late, we have to go to perform the last rites,” said the 51-year-old man, leaving the morgue.

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