Deadly Harda Factory Blast: Three people including factory owner Rajesh Aggarwal arrested

factory owner Rajesh Aggarwal arrested

Bhopal: A firecracker factory in Harda city of Madhya Pradesh became the site of a horrific tragedy on Tuesday when a powerful explosion triggered a massive fire that engulfed the premises and spread to nearby buildings. The blast, whose cause is still under investigation, claimed the lives of 11 people and injured 200 others, some of them critically. The owner of the factory and two others have been arrested for negligence and violation of the Explosives Act.

According to eyewitnesses and officials, the explosion occurred around 1 pm at the factory located in the Bairagarh locality on Magardha Road, about 150 km from the state capital Bhopal. The factory, owned by Rajesh Aggarwal, had a license to manufacture and store firecrackers, which are in high demand in India for various festivals and celebrations. However, the factory was reportedly operating without proper safety measures and had stored excessive amounts of explosives and chemicals.

The initial blast, whose cause remains a mystery, triggered a chain reaction of intermittent explosions that were audible from a staggering distance of 20 to 25 kilometers. The sheer magnitude of the catastrophe completely razed the factory, as revealed by the chilling helicopter footage showcasing a landscape of utter destruction. The fire also spread to nearby houses, shops, vehicles, and a school, causing extensive damage and panic among the residents.

The impact of the blast was so severe that it hurled stones, metal pieces, and other debris in the air, which hit and injured many people in the vicinity. Some of the victims were also trapped under the rubble and had to be rescued by the authorities and locals. The state government had to seek the assistance of the army helicopters to airlift the injured to the hospitals in Bhopal, Hoshangabad, and Indore. The district administration also declared a state of emergency and set up a control room to coordinate the rescue and relief operations.

Narmadapuram Commissioner Pawan Sharma, who visited the spot, told reporters that 174 people had been rescued from the site, of which 34 had been referred to Bhopal and Hoshangabad, while 140 were undergoing treatment at the district hospital. He said that one person had died among those who were referred, and 10 deaths had been reported from the district hospital. He added that the fire had been extinguished and debris was being removed from the spot. He said that the investigation into the matter was ongoing, but at present the rescue operation was the priority.

The police have arrested the owner of the factory, Rajesh Aggarwal, who was trying to flee in a car on the Sarangpur Highway in Rajgarh district. He was being interrogated along with two other accused, Somesh Aggarwal and Rafiq Khan, who were also involved in the factory operations. The police have registered a case against them under sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide), 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code, and section 3 of the Explosives Act.

The state government has announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for the injured. Chief Minister Mohan Yadav has expressed his grief and condolences over the incident and has directed the officials to provide all possible assistance to the victims. He has also ordered a high-level inquiry into the incident and has assured strict action against those responsible for the negligence and violation of the norms.

factory owner Rajesh Aggarwal arrested

The incident has once again highlighted the lack of safety and regulation in the firecracker industry in India, which is prone to frequent accidents and mishaps. According to a report by the National Crime Records Bureau, 282 people died and 966 were injured in 268 incidents of fire and explosion at firecracker units in India between 2014 and 2018. The report also stated that Madhya Pradesh ranked third among the states with the highest number of such incidents, after Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. Experts and activists have called for stricter enforcement of the laws and guidelines about the firecracker industry, as well as greater awareness and responsibility among manufacturers and consumers.