The toll in Madhya Pradesh’s Jhabua blasts reached 88 on Sunday as one of the injured died, and Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced an ex-gratia of Rs.5 lakh as well as a job for the next-of-kin of each of the dead.
Over 100 people were left injured in the incident on Saturday, when a cylinder burst at a hotel in the district’s Petlawad town, followed by a massive blast that ripped through an adjoining building.
The chief minister, visiting the victims at hospitals and the site of the blasts to assess the situation on Sunday, also announced a reward of Rs.1 lakh on the head of the main accused Rajendra Kaswa, the owner of the godown where the blast occurred.
“This is the saddest day of my life. Stringent action would be initiated against the culprits … though the death could not be compensated, a relief of Rs.5 lakh would be given to the next of the kin of the deceased and one job would be arranged for them,” Chouhan said.
Police said an FIR has been registered against the house-owner who had allegedly stocked explosives and his warehouse and house have been sealed.
Jhabua’s Additional Superintendent of Police Seema Alwa told IANS: “So far, 88 people have died in the incident. The house and godown of explosives’ stockist Rajendra Kaswa have been sealed. A case has been filed against him under the Explosives Act and for causing unintentional death. A search has been launched to locate him.”
As Chouhan was heading towards the blast site after visiting the hospital, protestors blocked his path to demand arrest of the owner of the house and action against the “irresponsible” officials.
Chouhan alighted from the car and sat with the protestors, assuring them government’s full cooperation was for them.
The protestors said some of the local residents had repeatedly brought to the notice of the administration the fact that explosives were stocked in the house in the thickly populated area, but no action was taken.
The chief minister told the protestors at the blast site that he has already announced a judicial probe into the blasts, in which over 100 people have been left wounded.
Chouhan assured the crowd that the judicial probe would be conducted fairly, and even if it took Rs.10 lakh to get the injured treated, the funds would be provided. He said no guilty person would be allowed to escape.
“I will go among the affected families and have a look at their condition. They would be provided anything they need. I will return from Petalwad town only after solving the problem,” the chief minister said.