Bandra Fire Is Arson, Accused Linked to Azad Maidan Riots: Police

Mumbai police say the Garib Nagar fire was arson, accused started fire to stop BMC’s demolition plans. 

2 min read
Massive fire broke out at Garib Nagar, Bandra East affecting over 100 huts. 

The massive fire that broke out and affected over 300 hutments and injured over three firemen in the Garib Nagar slum near Bandra railway station, has been termed arson by the Maharashtra Police. The police also confirmed that at least six of the accused –associated with starting the fire – are related to the people who started the 2012 Azad Maidan riots, reported India Today.

As of now, the police have arrested one person – Sabir Khan, a garment shop owner – in connection with the incident. The search for his accomplices, some absconding, some heaving protected by community, is still on, it reports.


The Maharashtra police, in its reports stated that the aim of the fire seemed to be to counter the plans of the BMC, who in compliance with the High Court’s orders, were set to demolish several of the houses which had been built illegally in the area.

Sabir, 29, seems to be the undisputed leader of the plan and was said to have allegedly opened a gas cylinder and let it blow up. While this certainly places him as the main perpetrator of the crime, in the eyes of the police, he is more of a ‘social worker’ to most of his neighborhood. In fact, several of them even came forth to defend Sabir and a few other youths who are rumoured to have started the fire.

Also Read: Mismanaged Demolition Drive Led to Fire in Bandra: Eyewitnesses

The police, however, are no new players to this game of arson to thwart government plans.

Every six months, a fire takes place in that particular area. The idea behind it is that once the houses are gutted in fire, the locals claim that all their documents are destroyed in the fire, and in the same place, several new illegal homes come up.
The Mumbai police, to India Today

They went on to add that recent investigations have shown that at least 10 of the suspects in association with the fire, are related to the people who started the infamous riots at Azad Maidan in Mumbai. They, thus, have a history of criminal record and misconduct, according to the police.

Also Read: Exclusive | Cops Caused Bandra Slum Fire by Demolition: Survivors

The police aren’t the only ones disturbed by the fire. Several members of the neighbourhood, most of whom own garment shops, were agonised by the losses they incurred due to the fire. The Hindu reported that some had incurred financial losses upto Rs 22 lakh, and others claimed that despite the fact that their houses were not in the BMC’s demolition list, they were anyway torched due to the fire.

For now, officials from the suburban Collector’s office have conducted a survey, where based on the losses incurred by the residents of the Garib Nagar slum, each family will be granted about Rs 3,800 on humanitarian grounds. The cheques are expected to be disbursed by Monday.

(With inputs from India Today and The Hindu.)

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