The Aam Aadmi Party pulled up the BJP for its involvement in the Mundka Fire Tragedy, on Wednesday. AAP Senior Leaders Saurabh Bhardwaj, Ms Atishi and Shri Durgesh Pathak attacked the BJP and questioned as to why it had not taken any major action in the matter.
Chief Spokesperson and MLA Shri Saurabh Bhardwaj stated, “BJP’s Adesh Gupta, Manoj Tiwari and Satish Upadhyay have blood of the 28 Mundka Fire victims on their hands. They must go to jail for murder. Suspension of three officials proves that BJP ruled MCD is directly responsible for the debacle.
Instead of action against Adesh Gupta, MCD Mayor & Standing Committee Chairman, BJP has made a scapegoat out of three junior officers. Police must immediately investigate whether all the ill-gotten wealth is being amassed by BJP’s Delhi State President or it goes to the central leadership too. BJP had to succumb to AAP’s pressure and accept that MCD officials are responsible for the fire. BJP ruled MCD tried to pass the blame on the Delhi Government but the investigation exposed their lies.” MLA Ms Atishi said,
“Suspension of three junior MCD officials not sufficient; Ex-Delhi BJP Presidents Manoj Tiwari and Satish Upadhyay must be prosecuted too. BJP ruled MCD has accepted its fault in the Mundka Fire Tragedy. Be it illegal construction, illegal licensing or unauthorised commercial activities, it all happens under BJP’s patronage. Lives of the people of Delhi being threatened because of BJP’s business of illegal licensing, encroachment & unauthorised commercial activities.” At the same time, MCD in-charge Shri Durgesh Pathak argued, “BJP’s top leadership is a culprit of the Mundka disaster. Satish Upadhyay was the Delhi BJP President when its campaign office was opened in the building whereas Manoj Tiwari was the President when sealing rules were flouted. This is a bigger matter of corruption than it seems; ex-Delhi BJP President Satish Upadhyay and Manoj Tiwari’s roles must be ascertained in the matter.”
AAP Chief Spokesperson and MLA Shri Saurabh Bharadwaj said, “On Friday, there was an incident of a devastating fire breaking out in an illegally constructed building in the Mundka area of Delhi, and in this tragic incident at least 28 people lost their lives. The bodies of those who died in this unfortunate incident were burnt beyond recognition and it was only through a DNA test that their identities were known. For the past four days, since this incident occurred, leaders of the BJP have been harping about who is responsible for this tragic incident. Their attempt was to malign the Kejriwal Government for this incident. In the meanwhile, the Delhi Government ordered a probe in this incident that was to be led by the SDM. It is unfortunate that some leaders of the BJP managed to mislead a few media persons on this incident and gave the impression that a blame game had been going on between the Delhi Government and the BJP-led MCD. I request the Delhi BJP to also discuss this matter on the basis of facts. I would also request the media to ask some of these factual questions to the BJP chief, Adesh Gupta, as he himself is a councillor in Delhi.”
He continued, “The building that caught fire stands on a 500 ‘gaj’ plot that is on an extended ‘lal dora’ land and it is on the main road – so it is not possible for the BJP-led MCD to say that they were not in the know about its construction. Such a huge commercial building was being run on the main road of an area, and therefore it is not possible that the MCD officials were not aware about this construction. Therefore, I’d like to point out that there is a possibility that officials of the MCD had taken a bribe for this illegal construction to take place.”
He further said, “I’d like to ask this question to Adesh Gupta, the Delhi BJP Chief, ‘who was your party’s candidate in Mundka for the 2015 Vidhan Sabha election? Was it Azad Singh? Who is Azad Singh? He is the younger brother of former Delhi CM Sahib Singh Verma, who was from the BJP. He is also the chacha of Delhi BJP MP Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma.
In 2015, when Azad Singh fought the Vidhan Sabha elections from Delhi, his party office was in this same building that caught fire on Friday and 28 people died in it. We also have photos where the owner of the building, Manish Lakra, who has now been arrested, can be seen sitting in the car of Azad Singh during the election time. The BJP tried to defend this by saying that during the election, the candidate ends up meeting several people, but the accused can clearly be seen sitting in the front seat of the candidate’s vehicle, which shows that the two knew each other well.”
He continued, “In 2016, the MCD gave an NOC to this building. And it is not some local-level official who gave this NOC to the building owner, but the Assistant Commissioner of Narela zone. Delhi BJP Chief, Adesh Gupta, who himself is a councillor said yesterday that there was a wine shop in this building. Yes, we agree that there was a wine shop here. When the Excise department provides the licence to open a wine shop, it asks the MCD whether the building is legal or not, whether it has permission to use the space for commercial use. The MCD is required to provide a certificate that states that the shop has got the necessary permissions to open a wine shop. How was this certification done? Why is it that in 2016, the Assistant Commissioner of Narela zone provided a fake certificate to this building? His signature is present on the certificate document.”
He added, “It baffles me that the MCD granted a licence to a building that doesn’t even have an approved or sanctioned map. It is clear that they took hefty bribes to approve the commercial licence. First, they amassed huge sums while getting the building constructed illegally, then they took bribes for the NOC, and then kept taking ransom to let the factory run. The proof behind this claim is the fact that in 2016, the MCD cancelled the licence when a complaint was lodged against it. This only proves that the MCD was aware that the building is unauthorised, the activities being conducted there are illegal and yet they let the lapses happen. This is why they cancelled the NOC after granting it.”
Bhardwaj said, “The Monitoring Committee of the Supreme Court itself sealed the premises. Yet commercial activity continued at the building because of BJP’s protection of it. The MCD should have come clear about it but chose to spin it. So did the BJP leaders. Look at Adesh Gupta for instance, he has been spinning the narrative beyond limits. Now, Adesh Gupta is no ordinary man, he is the most powerful office bearer of the Delhi BJP. Whenever he writes letters to get some poor man’s house demolished, the MCD complies. His predecessors Manoj Tiwari and Satish Upadhyay enjoyed the same power and sheer lack of responsibility.”
He continued, “Delhi BJP has changed three state presidents since this building came up — Satish Upadhyay, Manoj Tiwari & Adesh Gupta. All of these people have used their muscle to destroy Delhi like no other. Whenever the issue of unauthorised constructions has come up in Delhi, these men have harassed the common man and propelled the interests of the rich & powerful for the sake of their coffers. Whenever cases like Mundka happen, these three are the first to jump in to protect the culprits. Satish Upadhyay and Manoj Tiwari protected criminals throughout their terms and now Adesh Gupta is following the precedent in real-time. Why is Adesh Gupta doing so? The building is illegal. It is clear MCD officials took bribes to let it function. The building caught a devastating fire that took away 28 lives. Yet the BJP & Adesh Gupta continue to shield and protect the culprits.”
He added, “The BJP’s pattern of working and the presence of their election office at the premises points towards only one conclusion. Satish Upadhyay, Manoj Tiwari and Adesh Gupta are all equally responsible for the deaths of innocents at Mundka as the owners of the building. AAP demands an FIR against these three. A strong case of causing death by negligence be registered against them. It is because of their patronage MCD continues to be robbed off every single penny of its revenue. The Delhi Police must investigate whether the bribes reach only the state wing or go all the way up to the top leadership. It is because of the Magisterial Enquiry ordered by CM Shri Arvind Kejriwal and the continuous exposes by the AAP that the BJP has had to accept the shortcomings of MCD in the matter.”
He concluded, “Three MCD officials have been suspended in the matter — one licensing officer, one factory inspector and one house tax inspector. These officers were supposed to check for unauthorised construction, tax thefts and illegal activities in their regions so they have been made scapegoats in the matter. These are nothing but low-level officers being made to sacrifice for the bigshots. BJP’s Mayor, Standing Committee Chairman, Commissioner, Leader of the House weren’t even brought under the eye of suspicion. The people who were shielding the accused have not even been touched. This incident confirms that Adesh Gupta, Manoj Tiwari and Satish Upadhyay have blood on their hands and they must go to jail. Now that MCD is under the Centre, AAP demands the PM and the Home Minister to act on this immediately.”
AAP Senior Leader and MLA Ms Atishi said, “Every single Delhi resident is watching the BJP shamelessly impose its ‘Bulldozer Justice’ upon the entire National Capital with its ulterior motives of hooliganism and extortion. BJP leaders and councillors are going to various corners of Delhi and terrorising people about their minor property alterations like balcony/roof extensions or protruding structures of shops. They are threatening innocent people with demolition of entire properties if they do not pay the amount demanded by these BJP goons. These threats are very-well translating into reality, as wherever the BJP is failing to extort money, it is resorting to running its MCD sanctioned bulldozer over those places. There must be some transparency about the procedure that the BJP is adhering to in order to demolish properties left, right, and centre. The entirety of Delhi’s population wishes to find out the basis and the reasoning behind this mass demolition drive through which the BJP has wreaked havoc upon their localities. The Aam Aadmi Party believes that once a list of these targeted demolitions with proper details of locations and details is revealed, BJP’s true face will be exposed. It will then be clear to all Delhi residents that the sole reason behind this demolition drive that the BJP is running is to pocket as much money as possible – their only motive here is to exert its power through intimidation and extortion.”
She added, “We will take further action based on the report once it is out. However, if we take a look at Delhi today, approximately 70-80% of the construction in the city is unauthorised. Does this mean the BJP will demolish and destroy 80% of Delhi? Or does it only intend to bulldoze areas where they are threatening people, but failing to extort their desired amount of money? Therefore, it is important for people all over Delhi to be aware of the truth behind BJP’s bulldozer politics. No matter where these demolitions are taking place, it is clear that all that the BJP is doing is intimidating innocent Delhi residents for the sake of filling its pockets. The Aam Aadmi Party is staunchly opposing these cruel and unjustified methods of the BJP. Today as well, once the bulldozer reaches the concerned areas in Sultanpur, our team will try our level best to avert the demolition, to protest against the BJP’s so-called ‘bulldozer justice’. If we let the BJP do as it pleases and continue to ruin homes, people will live in constant fear of being displaced and uprooted. Will the BJP blindly tear down lacs of shops and residences this way? Do the poor people not have a right to live in Delhi anymore? Will every single slum cluster or unauthorised colony be destroyed by the BJP? This is the same BJP which promises to regularise unauthorised colonies and build permanent homes in place of slums every election season. But the reality is that the same BJP is ready to threaten those very slums and unauthorised colonies with bulldozers in order to make some extra money through extortion.”
Atishi also said, “The BJP is afraid of losing to the Aam Aadmi Party if the MCD elections are to be held today. Their 15-year tenure at the MCD has been synonymous with corruption and misgovernance. At the moment, we are also being exposed to the risk that the citizens of Delhi face to their lives and their livelihood due to the misgovernance of the BJP. In its 15 years at the helm of the MCD, the BJP has led to the mushrooming of illegal structures in the city and an increase in the rise of structures with invalid permits. In the recent fire incident in Mundka, we saw that 28 people died in the tragic incident due to the carelessness of the BJP. So, today the citizens of Delhi want to throw the BJP out of the MCD and it is the fear of impending defeat that has made the party postpone the MCD elections. We really hope that elections to the MCD will be held as per the rules of the Constitution. Recently, the Supreme Court also gave an important order regarding the holding of local elections in Madhya Pradesh. It stated that irrespective of the situation, the elections should be held as per the Constitution once every 5 years. So we hope that following this Constitutional duty, the elections in Delhi will also be held soon.”
Speaking on the fire incident at a Mundka high-rise, Ms Atishi said, “Now the BJP-led MCD has at last accepted that they are responsible for the tragic incident that unfolded in Mundka. They are responsible for the incident due to many reasons such as allowing the illegal construction to have taken place, giving an illegal licence for the commercial use of the space, and so on. To suspend just 3 junior officers after such an incident is not enough, as permissions for these activities came from the highest offices of the party. How is it that the BJP MP Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma’s uncle, Azad Singh, used this same office space for his 2015 Vidhan Sabha elections? And the following year, in 2016, they got a fake licence to permit these activities. How is it that EPCA, which is the monitoring committee of the Supreme Court, seals this space, but still commercial activities continue to be held there and the MCD does not try to stop it. So, it is very clear that the BJP is responsible for the illegal activities that were taking place in the building. It is not enough to suspend just 3 junior officers, but action needs to be taken against the BJP chiefs who held office between 2016 and 2020, including Satish Upadhyay and Manoj Tiwari. AAP demands that these two persons from the BJP are arrested and action is taken against them. This is not just about the Mundka fire incident, but all of Delhi is festered with such illegal buildings operating with illegal licences, making it a threat for the citizens of Delhi.”
AAP Senior Leader and MCD incharge Durgesh Pathak said, “We all saw the devastating visuals of the fire tragedy at Mundka. The BJP-ruled MCD has now succumbed to the pressure and is taking action. But instead of taking any major step, the MCD has resorted to suspending three low-level officers for their involvement in the act. Everyone is well aware about Manish Lakra, the building owner’s connections with the BJP. Azad Singh, the chacha of BJP MP Parvesh Verma, had his 2015 election campaign office in the same building. In 2016, the MCD issued an NOC to the building, in 2017 it was forced to take the NOC back. Next, the Supreme Court’s monitoring committee sealed the building. Yet all rules were flouted and industrial activities continued. This can’t simply happen due to the involvement of a JE or AE. BJP’s top leadership is definitely involved in this.”
He added, “In 2015, when the campaign office was inaugurated, Satish Upadhyay commanded the state president post in Delhi BJP. Then when the Supreme Court’s sealing was flouted at the site, Manoj Tiwari was president. Both these men are to be held accountable for the illegitimacy of the building. They must answer why illegal activities continued at the site under their watch. I demand a thorough investigation into the matter. The extent of the role of Manoj Tiwari and Satish Upadhyay must be ascertained immediately. If any Central leader of the party is involved they must be brought to justice too.”