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Didi compensates families of Egra blast victims, warns police of punishment if quick action is not taken in future

I bow my head and seek forgiveness from you for what has happened here, says Didi, hands over cheques of Rs 2.5 lakh to the next of kin of the 11 killed

Sougata Mukhopadhyay Calcutta Published 27.05.23, 01:46 PM
Mamata Banerjee meets family members of firecracker unit blast victims at Khadikul village in Egra, East Midnapore and provides monetary compensation and a government job

Mamata Banerjee meets family members of firecracker unit blast victims at Khadikul village in Egra, East Midnapore and provides monetary compensation and a government job Twitter

Calling the May 16 blast at the illegal firecracker factory in East Midnapore’s Egra which killed 12 people, an “eye-opener”, Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee warned officers in charge of local police stations of strict disciplinary action if quick action is not taken against such illegal units across the state once tip-offs are received.

Banerjee handed over compensatory cheques of Rs 2.5 lakhs to the next of kin of the 11 employees who died a violent death in the explosion. The prime suspect and owner of the factory, Bhanu Bag, too perished from grievous burn injuries at a private hospital in Cuttack where he managed to flee after the incident and get admitted under a fake identity.


The chief minister also distributed appointment letters to the position of Home Guard to one member of each of the 11 families and used the opportunity to announce that the state would also compensate families of those who died after being struck by lightning with Rs 2 lakhs.

“I am not here to do politics. I am here to extend the hand of humanity, to help the next of kin of those who perished in the terrible accident, to help the suffering family members left behind by those who passed away,” the chief minister announced from a prescheduled government programme in Egra on Saturday morning which she attended after skipping the Niti Ayog meet in Delhi.

“I urge the local people to keep an eye out for possible manufacturing of illegal firecrackers in spurious units and immediately report the matter to the local OC. If the OC doesn’t take immediate action, I will remove him forthwith. We have already transferred the local OC because I heard that he took no action despite being informed about the illegal operation,” Banerjee told the Egra gathering. The area had witnessed large-scale resentment against the police after the explosion took place.

“This tragedy could have been averted if the top intelligence gathering mechanism of the district acted in a timely manner,” she added, begrudgingly.

“We must ensure that such incidents don’t get repeated in future,” she declared.

While elaborating on the state’s decision to come up with separate clusters for green cracker manufacturing units across Bengal, Banerjee said, “The Egra incident was an eye-opener for us. We have formed a committee under the state chief secretary which will submit a report to me in two months. We will build firecracker manufacturing clusters away from congested localities in areas where these units currently exist. The owners will have to manufacture green crackers, not the illegal and harmful firecrackers.”

“That way we would be able to save the jobs of those who are presently employed in such units and at the same time be able to cater to the demand for green crackers which exists in our state,” she added.

What also seemed like a bid to address people’s disgruntlement against sustained operations of illegal firecracker manufacturing units in the region, the chief minister said: “The owners manufacture firecrackers out of greed. Look what happened here, he not only got himself killed but also killed others along with him. We have arrested two members of the family unit owner. Unfortunately, the main suspect, though arrested, perished in a Cuttack hospital even before he could give a statement.”

“I am aware that illegal firearms are being brought into the state from neighbouring Jharkhand and illegal firecrackers are smuggled out to adjacent Odisha from our borders. We must man the state borders carefully and seal them,” Banerjee directed the local administration brass present at the programme.

“Deploy the newly appointed home guards at the state borders so that they can get a better understanding of the geography and guard them properly. They need not go outside of their localities and can act as the communication bridge between the ground and the police in the event of an untoward incident,” she instructed.

“I bow my head and seek forgiveness from you for what has happened here. Let me know if I can be of any further help,” the chief minister said, pensively.

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