Police: IOC fire could be sabotage

IOC

Rajasthan Police are investigating whether the Jaipur Indian Oil Corporation depot fire that claimed 11 lives and injured over a hundred is a case of arson.

It is now being ascertained if an oil pilferage scam busted by the Jaipur CBI two months ago, which led to arrests of senior IOC personnel and the seizing of huge quantities of fuel, could be related to this probable act of arson. The police will examine if the people involved in the scam were trying to cover their tracks by starting a fire.

Jaipur Inspector General of Police B L Soni on Saturday said they had not ruled out sabotage as one of the causes of the IOC inferno that began on October 29. "This same IOC depot is involved in an oil pilferage case being investigated by the CBI. Arson could have been the result of perpetrators trying to cover their tracks and ensure the fuel shortage in the IOC depot went unnoticed," he said.

Soni added that the police, in their investigation so far, had clearly determined that the machinery at the IOC depot had not been handled according to IOC's standard operating procedure (SOP).

Senior police officers said that arson was a possibility since the CBI investigation could unearth the involvement of senior IOC officials in their pilferage case. According to the Jaipur CBI spokesperson, Alok Gupta, a team of CBI sleuths arrested seven persons in August for fuel pilferage.

"The accused include two IOC supervisors and we have in a month alone confiscated 180 KL of fuel. We believe that such a huge quantity of fuel could not have been pilfered without anybody noticing," Gupta said.

Jaipur police officers over the last two days have scrutinised the machinery at the nearby Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) to make a comparison with the gutted IOC depot.

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