Bhubaneswar: A day after the police issued look out circular against SUM Hospital’s owner Manoj Nayak in connection with deaths of 21 patients over Monday’s fire tragedy , he surrendered before the police in the early hours of Thursday. Commissioner of police Y B Khurania confirmed about his surrender and subsequent arrest.
“He surrendered in the intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday. He is being interrogated after arrest,” Khurania told media persons. However, there was immediate confirmation about detention of his wife Saswati Das against whom the police also issued look out notice.
On Tuesday, the Khandagiri police arrested four employees of SUM Hospital, including its superintendent a day after the devastating fire on its premises killed 21 patients.
The state fire service directorate found gross negligence with the SUM Hospital for the tragedy. “In 2013, we had conducted a fire safety audit in all hospitals, including SUM in Odisha. We had issued some recommendations to the SUM Hospital to improve its firefighting systems. But the hospital did not carry out some of our major recommendations for which the tragedy struck,” DGP (fire services) Binoy Behera said.
The police action followed massive public outrage over the tragic deaths and growing demands from different quarters for his arrest. Raising the issue of arrest of some top functionaries in connection with 2011 AMRI fire tragedy in Kolkata, a group of locals protested outside SUM hospital, demanding Nayak’s immediate arrest.
Police probe revealed Nayak was in the know of the poor fire safety measures at his hospital. In other words, the inferno at his hospital that claimed 21 lives could be attributed to his ‘laxity’.
Nayak’s alleged negligence was evident from the FIR lodged by Odisha fire service with Khandagiri police here on Tuesday against the SUM hospital management. TOI possesses copy of the FIR. In the FIR, the complainant Brajendu Bhusan Das (fire officer, central range) highlighted that the hospital’s owner (though name not mentioned) was intimated about shortcomings in fire prevention measures.
“After the 2013 fire safety audit at SUM hospital, several shortcomings were noticed and intimated to the hospital authority for compliance. This was intimated to the planning member of Bhubaneswar Development Authority with a copy marked to the owner of SUM hospital,” the FIR copy read. “The fire tragedy of such a magnitude occurred entirely due to the negligence on the part of the hospital for failing to install the recommended safety measures,” the FIR said.