New Delhi, May 15

The absconding owner of a building in outer Delhi’s Mundka, where a massive fire broke out leaving 27 people dead, has been arrested two days after the incident, police said on Sunday.

Twenty-seven people, including 21 women, have died in the blaze that started on the first floor of the four-storey building on Friday.

“We have arrested the absconding building owner Manish Lakra after conducting raids in Delhi and Haryana,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Outer) Sameer Sharma.

Lakhra is a resident of Mundka village, he said.

Nineteen people are still missing and there was little hope of finding survivors.

Meanwhile, distraught families of the fire victims, who are still missing, continued to wait outside Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital on Sunday for their loved ones as 19 bodies are yet to be identified.

Rajesh Kumar, whose sisters are missing, said he couldn’t identify them as the bodies were charred beyond recognition. He said they are still awaiting a response from the hospital on DNA testing.

“I have three sisters and all of them are missing. We requested the hospital to conduct a DNA test, and still waiting for a response from them. My sisters worked at the camera packaging department. It was 4.30pm when I received a call from our father, informing me about the incident,” a grieving Rajesh said.

He said they panicked and rushed around the city, searching all government hospitals to know if his sisters were admitted there. “We visited every government hospital since last night. Finally, one of the government hospitals told us that they were taken to Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital. The bodies are charred beyond recognition,” he said.

Blaming the authorities, Rajesh further said the dead bodies were brought to the hospital in an “undignified manner”.

“They brought the bodies in a manner like they collected some garbage. Do they think that just because they are dead, they do not have any dignity left? They called us to identify the bodies but there are two to three burnt bodies packed in one bag altogether. How are we supposed to identify our family members in that manner,” Rajesh asked.

Two brothers, Mahipal Kumar and Surender Kumar, whose daughters have been missing, waited outside the mortuary of the hospital to take back the bodies.

“We’ve been waiting here since last night. My daughter called me Friday when the fire broke out at the building. She was panicking and that was the last time I heard from her,” Mahipal Kumar said, adding that they have been requesting the hospital to identify and hand over her body for last rites.

Surendra Kumar grieved as he couldn’t speak to his daughter one last time. “She used to work in the camera department. Her body is yet to be identified. I wish I could speak to her one last time,” he said.

Nafeesa, a resident of the Rani Khera locality waited for hours for her sister-in-law’s body to be identified. She said that the body is burnt to an extent that they are unable to identify her.

Levelling similar allegations as Rajesh, Nafeesa questioned “why multiple charred bodies were kept in one bag.”  

“We were asked to identify the body but we couldn’t. They packed two to three bodies together, how are we supposed to identify in that manner,” Nafeesa asked.

“Her body burnt to the extent that we are not being able to identify her. We tried speaking to the hospital staff but they’re saying that it will take time as the forensics team will be examining the bodies. We are here since Friday night and haven’t eaten anything since then,” Nafeesa said. 

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