Surat Fire: Victim’s Kin Deny Claim They Refused Govt Compensation

Happy Panchani’s uncle Janish Panchani urged everyone to stop sharing the fake post on social media immediately.

4 min read
Surat: Fire fighting operations underway after a massive fire broke out at a coaching centre atop a four-storey building, in Sarthana area of Gujarat

In the aftermath of the Surat fire that took the lives of 22 people, mostly students, the Gujarat government declared a compensation package of Rs 4 lakh to the victims’ kin.

However, a post that has gone viral on Whatsapp, Twitter and Facebook claims that one of the victim’s families has refused to accept the compensation.

In the viral post, Facebook user Gaurav Zibbu has claimed that Deepak Panchani, father of one of the victims, Happy Panchani (16), has outright refused to accept the state government’s compensation.
The Viral post that claimed, Happy Panchani’s father refused to accept government’s compensation
The Viral post that claimed, Happy Panchani’s father refused to accept government’s compensation
Photo Credit: Facebook Screengrab

The viral post further stated that Deepak Panchani refused the compensation, saying that the fire department needs it to buy ladders, and that he will contribute an additional Rs 4 lakh to the department from his own pocket.

‘Please Stop Circulating Fake Post on Social Media’

When The Quint reached out to Happy Panchani’s family, they refuted the claims made on social media and said that these are simply rumours. Janish Panchani, Happy’s uncle on her father’s side, told The Quint that such rumours started in one of the local newspapers.

“Firstly for the last couple of days, this rumour had started circulating in the newspaper – I don’t want to name the newspaper – and on social media, especially on Facebook and WhatsApp. The post claims that Happy’s family refused the government [compensation]. Nobody from our family, not even Happy’s father, has given any such application.”
Janish Panchani, Happy Panchani’s Uncle

Janish Panchani further requested people to stop spreading such rumours.

“We sincerely request all those who are making this post viral that at this moment we need their support and we request you to stop circulating such messages on social media and elsewhere as it brings more trouble for us. You want to support us, that is good but do not spread such rumours.”

He added that the family does have plans to do charity, but didn’t want to go into the details.

“We are planning to do charity. It is part of our religion to do something in the memory of the departed soul. It is our personal call and society, or the government, need not be bothered about it.”


Viral Post Alleges Corruption and Mismanagement of Funds

The post further alleges that the Gujarat government since Chief Minister Chimanbhai Patel’s time (1990-1994) has been mulling over procuring hydraulic ladders for the fire department, that reach up to 8 floors across four major cities in the state (Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot and Surat).

The post further claims that Keshubhai Patel’s government added another Rs 500 crore to the budget with an intention to provide fire fighting infrastructure across 100 cities and towns across Gujarat.

According to the post, after Narendra Modi became the chief minister of the state, the cost of fire trucks has inexplicably spiked from Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore. The post further added that current BJP’s Gandhinagar MP, Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah was handed the contract to supply the equipment in 2005.

The post also furnished a RTI number claiming that the details are available in the reply – RTI No. IN/GJ/203578/TSS – adding that probe should be held on all tenders and policy changes between 2002-2005.


An article alleging that Jay Shah’s business grew 16,000-fold since 2014 has triggered a political storm.
An article alleging that Jay Shah’s business grew 16,000-fold since 2014 has triggered a political storm.
(Photo: The Quint)

Inaccuracies in the Viral Post

Firstly, the RTI number provided in the viral post is incomplete and therefore The Quint could not pull out the reply tendered by RTI on mismanagement of funds.

Secondly, the post has alleged that Jay Shah was handed the contract between 2002-2005.

Jay Shah’s current age could not be confirmed anywhere, from Amit Shah’s election affidavit to Jay Shah’s company, Temple Enterprises. Interestingly, Amit Shah married in December 1987, which was followed by the birth of his son Jay Shah.

This would mean that Jay Shah was born somewhere around 1988-89, which would make him a minor between 2002-2005 (under 18 years of age).

A child under the age of 18 is considered a minor and is barred from signing a contract unless it is for essential items. Essential items include medicines, food, and medical services. Otherwise, the minor child must have a parent or guardian’s consent to enter the contract for it to be legally binding.

Therefore, the validity of the post comes under the scanner as it boldly proclaims that Jay Shah was given the contract to supply equipment to Gujarat’s fire department.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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