Even as the death toll in the March 23 fire at Stephen Court on Park Street here rose to 34, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Sunday demanded a judicial probe or a CBI inquiry into the incident.
“This incident is a serious affair. Responsibility for the lives that have been lost must be located. There should be an inquiry by a judicial commission led by a judge of the Supreme Court. Otherwise the State government should ask for a CBI inquiry,” Ms. Banerjee said.
Alleging that the police, fire brigade, Corporation and hospital authorities had all failed the victims and there had been several lapses in handling the situation, Ms. Banerjee said “an inquiry done by an internal committee of the State government would be a mere eyewash.”
Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee also demanded an investigation and inquiry “to determine whether there were any lapses or shortcomings so that such incidents do not recur in future.”
“Merely blaming each other will not bring back those who have died,” Mr. Mukherjee said.
Meanwhile, a body and a severed limb were uncovered in the debris on the fifth floor of the building on Sunday as the work on clearing the debris and demolition of the portions considered dangerous carried on.
The scene at the SSKM hospital morgue remained unchanged as relatives spent another anxious day waiting for news of their loved ones.
“I have looked at over 20 bodies so far, but I could not identify any of them as the body of my niece,” said Kamal Nath, the uncle of 23-year-old Jayatri Roy Choudhury.
With discrepancy over the number of bodies recovered from the accident site and those reported missing and several disputes over the identity of four victims, forensic experts are now going to collect samples for a DNA examination from all the families.
“Jayatri's mother is a heart patient and we haven't told her about the inevitable yet. How will I ask her to come for a DNA examination and what if her body is never found,” said Mr. Nath.