Dawn fire kills 20 in Kolkata
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Fire and disaster management department minister Javed Khan blamed the previous Left Front government for the tragedy. "The building where the fire broke out was illegally constructed when the Left was in power, and most entry and exit gates were locked, resulting in people being trapped inside," he said.
The two floors which caught fire housed a total of around 80 shops, Khan said.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who visited the building and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each for the dead and Rs 50,000 each for the injured, suggested the possibility of arson.
"Who knows, some people may have deliberately set the place on fire with an ulterior motive? We have ordered an inquiry. The KMC, fire department and police will jointly conduct the inquiry and submit a report in three days," she said.
Banerjee urged traders not to carry out businesses in illegal buildings. "There is no harm in doing business, but I won't allow business to be carried out illegally... Why did this incident happen? There are so many inflammable objects around, and if anyone lights a small fire it can turn into an inferno."
Governor M K Narayanan visited the scene of the tragedy and the NRS and Calcutta Medical College hospitals where the injured have been admitted.