The owner of the illegal firework factory in East Midnapore’s Egra, Krishnapada Bag, aka Bhanu, succumbed to burns at a private hospital in Cuttack, Odisha, early on Friday.
Nine people had died and several others suffered injuries when an explosion had razed to the ground the factory at Khadikul village on Tuesday.
Bag had suffered 70 per cent burns in the explosion. He had allegedly been running the firecracker unit for two decades.
He managed to flee with his son and nephew immediately after the explosion and the CID, which is probing into the case, tracked them down to the Cuttack hospital on Thursday.
The CID had arrested Bag's son and nephew Indrajit from the healthcare facility.
“We received a message from the hospital early this morning that Bag had succumbed to his injuries. Unfortunately, we could not collect his statement after tracing him to the private hospital owing to his critical state,” said a senior CID officer.
Bag’s death came on a day when the CID added fresh charges to the FIR against the accused. Charges of murder (Section 302) and attempt to murder (Section 307) under the Indian Penal Code and Section 9B of the Explosives Act 1884 were included in the FIR.
The omission of charges under the Explosive Substances Act 1908 had raised eyebrows in administrative and police circles.
The CID had earlier lodged the FIR against the accused under different sections of the IPC, including Section 304, which refers to causing death by negligence, and Section 286 which refers to negligent conduct with explosives, along with specific sections of the Fire Services Act.
Calcutta High Court had on Thursday directed the state to include sections of the Explosive Substances Act in the FIR.
“The case suffers a setback with the death of the main accused. But that doesn’t stall the investigation,” the officer said.
The National Human Rights Commission on Friday sent notices to the state’s chief secretary and the director general of police, asking them to submit a detailed report on the blast within four weeks.
The government on Friday shifted Mousam Chakraborty, the officer in charge of Egra police station, and replaced him with Swapan Goswami.
While senior police officers maintained the transfer was “routine”, several in the home department said chief minister Mamata Banerjee was not happy with Chakraborty following the death of nine persons in the blast.