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Arrested Mundka building owner, family escaped fire by jumping on roof of adjacent building, say police

Following the arrest of Manish Lakra, the owner of a building in Mundka where a fire claimed 27 lives, Delhi police are now on the lookout for his family.

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New Delhi: Delhi police have arrested Manish Lakra, the owner of the four-storey building near Mundka metro station where a fire claimed at least 27 lives Friday. Lakra lived on the top floor of the building and escaped the blaze, along with his wife, children and mother.

While confirming Lakra’s arrest, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Outer range, Sameer Sharma told the media Sunday: “Multiple raids were conducted across Delhi and Haryana. We had received information that he had planned to go to Haridwar.”

“He called his relatives to escape after realising that a fire had broken out. Manish and his family escaped by climbing down from the next building,” the DCP said, adding that the police are trying to trace his family.

“We have seized the DVR to check the CCTV footage, which has been sent to FSL. Only after that will it be clear if the door to the terrace was open or not. If someone had to reach his house or the roof, they had to cross this door — it was like his personal door,” DCP Sharma said.

“Manish has told the police that after escaping from the crime spot he went to Haryana and slept in a temple. He received money from a friend and got rid of his mobile phone. We are verifying all facts,” the DCP said.

He is the third person to have been arrested in connection with the blaze after brothers Harish and Varun Goel – owners of the company that had rented the remaining three floors and used them to manufacture, assemble and sell CCTV cameras and WiFi routers.

The arrests were made on the basis of an FIR registered at Mundka Police station under IPC sections 304 (causing death by negligence), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide), 120B (party to criminal conspiracy), and 34 (common intention).

Also Read: No emergency exit, fire extinguishers — how ‘illegal’ building in Delhi’s Mundka turned death trap

‘Documents will be verified to fix culpability’

According to the police, the four-storey building in Mundka was constructed by Manish Lakra’s father, Baljeet Lakra. “The building was constructed by his father Baljeet Singh in 2011-2012 and was transferred to Manish Lakra after the former’s death in 2015,” DCP Sharma told ThePrint.

“They didn’t have an NOC (no-objection certificate). Tenant verification and police clearance certificates weren’t issued,” DCP Sharma said, adding that documents from all agencies concerned, including the MCD, will be verified to fix culpability.

According to eyewitnesses and survivors, the fire erupted around 3.30 pm Friday, first seen in the generator room on the first floor of the building. The blaze soon engulfed all four floors.

The building was not equipped to handle an emergency — there were no emergency exits, ventilation shafts or fire extinguishers, recall survivors.

Of the bodies recovered from the building, only eight have been identified while DNA samples are being collected for identification of the remaining bodies. As many as 19 people, believed to be inside the building at the time of the fire, are still missing.

Delhi Fire Services chief Atul Garg had confirmed to ThePrint that the building did not have a fire NOC (no-objection certificate) or required clearances from the MCD (municipal corporation).

“Every floor should have two exit points, but this building had only one on each floor. They didn’t have any fire extinguishers either,” Garg had said Saturday.

(This story has been updated to accommodate new developments)

(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)

Also Read: Fear and desperation as families of Mundka fire victims search for loved ones

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