The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought a report from the state government on the fire at a municipal market in Malda that reportedly triggered the bursting of crackers stored in an adjacent shop and claimed two lives on May 23.
It has been learnt from sources that the NHRC took suo motu cognisance of the incident following media reports.
Local people and traders have alleged that inflammable articles like calcium carbide and illegal fire-crackers were hoarded in large quantities at Netaji municipal market in Englishbazar.
Sources said the NHRC had issued notice to the chief secretary and the director general of police, asking them to submit a thorough report on the incident within four weeks.
It is learnt that the commission referred to the death of 16 people in three separate incidents of similar kind within a span of eight days.
The NHRC has sought a report on the FIR lodged after the Malda incident, along with the action taken report.
Details of the treatment of the victims and the compensation to the families of the deceased have also been sought.
It is largely believed by a section of authorities that some carbide containers burst while being unloaded and taken to a storage unit around 6.30am on May 23.
A shop, adjacent to that storage unit, which allegedly had a large volume of illegal crackers, then caught fire which spread rapidly.
Nearly 10 shops were damaged by the fire. The fire brigade engaged five engines and it took nearly 10 hours to bring the fire under control.
Police have arrested one person for allegedly storing inflammable articles.
District magistrate Nitin Singhania has formed an enquiry committee under the chairmanship of Baibav Choudhary, the additional district magistrate (general), and has been directed to submit a report soon.
Englishbazar municipality also held meetings with the traders and adopted a resolution that no inflammable articles could be stored or sold from municipal markets which were generally congested.
The Malda Merchants’ Chamber of Commerce (MMCC) organised a seminar on fire safety on Saturday evening at its office where the senior officials of the fire brigade were present.
They explained to the traders fire safety norms, along with the dos and don’ts while trading in inflammable articles.
“We have a responsibility. Therefore, the seminar was organised to inform the traders about safe business practices and also in the interest of the buyers,” said Jayanta Kundu, the president of MMCC.