The fatal explosion of gelatin sticks stored in a building near a crowded bus stand in Petlawad town of Jhabua district in Madhya Pradesh on Saturday was one of the biggest explosions the town has ever seen.
Around 100 people were killed and several others were severely injured with adjacent buildings, restaurants and houses extensively damaged in the blast. Initially, the cooking gas cylinder in the restaurant was thought to have exploded. But the locals soon realized that it was the deadly explosives stored in the building that caused the tragedy and accused the police as well as the government for their negligence in the matter. Protestors blocked the Chief Minister’s convoy demanding the arrest of the owner of the building and action against the ‘irresponsible’ officials. Following the protests, the police registered an FIR against the building owner, Rajendra Kumar Kaswa. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has ordered a judicial inquiry into the matter.
Kaswa, the building owner, had a license to deal in explosives. But he, reportedly, didn’t have the permission to store them in his building, which he had taken for rent five years back. He allegedly stocked around hundred gelatin sticks in the building for his mining business which led to the mishap. The locals claimed that no action was taken against Kaswa despite lodging a complaint last year. They had also taken the matter to the district magistrate when they came to know of the explosives stored in the residential locality, but it had also gone futile.
The tragedy is not the first of its kind and would not cease to exist as long as the system neglects the violation of law and inefficiency of the authorities. There are clear-cut laws and guidelines for the procurement as well as safe storage of detonators and other explosive materials used for festive occasions, digging wells or blasting operations. But the laxity in abiding by the rules, negligence of the district authorities in taking action against the violation of law and the misuse of law by the corrupt officials and businessmen who seek wealth through illegal ways and all lead to such tragedies that claim lives. The incidents repeat themselves in newspapers along with daily scoops and are soon forgotten. The Opposition parties alleged that the Madhya Pradesh government was going soft on Kaswa as he was a member of the BJP affiliated local traders’ body and a former RSS member. He took the license in the name of the party’s district traders’ association president. The media and the investigative agencies would have shown more interest and concern if it was high profile case of terrorist blasts. The criminals backed by the powerful manage to escape and the innocents are tracked down by the authorities. The close bonding between the businessmen and the terrorists is nobody’s concern and the incident would soon die out after being in the headlines for a while and announcements of recompense. The level of sloppiness with which the concerned authorities are handling the case is pitiful. The media which celebrate every scoop also do not show much interest. The laws are distorted by the ruling politicians who often misuse them to save their kin leaving the people to bear the brunt of their actions.