Gurdaspur (Punjab): IFTU Report on Accident in Firecracker Factory

23 people died and 27 were injured in a firecracker factory in Sadayati (Lauh Nagari) Batala in Gurdaspur district. Seven of them are grievously injured. In this incident, many families and factory workers were affected.

Senior Vice President of IFTU (Punjab Committee) Com. Ramesh Rana, Com, Jogendra Pal Paniyad, Com.Sona Masih, Bhupendra Singh, Phula Masih, Vachan Voparai collected information visiting the families of the dead in Amritsar and Batala.

In a crowded colony called Shri Guru Ravidas Colony, a firecracker factory was running for the last 30 years by the name of Jaspal Fireworks. In this factory, firecrackers for Diwali, Dussehra and other religious festivities were stored. In Batala city excess firecrackers and gunpowder had been illegally stored for the anniversary celebrations of the Wedding of Sri Guru Nanak Dev on September 5th, but suddenly, on September 5th, a fire broke out and the entire city reverberated with explosions. The house of the factory owner, under which the explosions started, was gutted down. Five of his family members died in the incident. It was found that out of 20 workers who were working there, 15 died. Many passersby and common people including a woman who had come to visit the Gurdwara were injured in the blast which caused bricks and stones to fly up to about 500 meters. Some youth of nearby village, who had come to buy crackers for the fair in their village, jumped into a dirty drain to save their lives. A car workshop and another house were also affected.

The license of the factory was in the name of Jaspal Singh s/o Indrajit, and it expired in 2016. On January 20th, 2017, there was an explosion in the same factory at the same site and one worker died and two were injured. An FIR was lodged with the police against the owner, but due to political interference, no action was taken and the factory continued to function. Jaspal Singh died three months back and the complaint was hushed up. A huge house was erected above the factory. Three more factories came out of this one factory. Ignoring the complaint of neighbours and of the management of a nearby convent school, work continued due to political and administrative support.

The IFTU team also met the workshop’s owner Satnam Singh, who was also injured in the incident. Luxury cars which came to him for repair were destroyed and he suffered a loss of about Rupees one and a half crores. A  Coaching Centre was destroyed and suffered loss of Rupees Fifty Lakhs. As far as the responsibility of district administration and political people is concerned, the CM of Punjab has announced Rs. 2 Lakhs for the family of each dead and Rs. 50,000 to each injured. Police has registered cases u/s 304, 427 of IPC and 3, 4, 5 of Explosive Material Act 1908 against dead factory owner Jaspal as 5 members of this family died in the incident. People are angry with the gimmicks of ruling parties’ political people including Ministers of the ruling party, BJP MP Sunny Deol and Shwet Malik (Rajya Sabha MP), who have given false assurances and vanished.

IFTU demands that action be taken against guilty police officers, administrative officers, municipal officials, labour inspector and CID department.