NEW DELHI – The Vice President of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH), Mohammed Salim Engineer has voiced concern over the safety of students studying in coaching centers after the fire in a Surat coaching class killed 22 students.
In a statement issued to the media on Monday, Salim Engineer said “We are deeply saddened by the incident in Surat in which 22 students including 18 girls were killed by a fire that broke out in the coaching center they were studying. We express our deepest sympathies to their parents and near ones. We also pray for the speedy recovery of those injured and recuperating in hospital.’’
Pointing to the failures of the administration to save the victims, JIH Vice President stated “it is a matter of grave concern that safety norms were completely flouted and there were no fire-safety measures and equipment in place because of which the tragedy occurred. Although the state government is now cracking down on all coaching centers and other commercial establishments for failure to adhere to the fire-safety norms and has also made some arrests and suspended a few officers, it is important to take serious note of this incident and implement the necessary safety norms all over the country by sprucing up the existing legislation and awarding exemplary punishment to those found guilty of endangering peoples’ lives by defying safety rules and regulations”.
He also pointed to the failures of the Gujarat government over its ill-preparedness to deal with the situation. “Eyewitnesses said that the fire brigade did not arrive on time, did not have safety nets to catch students jumping out of the building and the hydraulic staircase was insufficient to reach the third floor of the building. This ill-preparedness means that the fire brigade and their equipment is largely ill-equipped to meet its day to day challenges and points to the overall failure of our governance and priorities,” Salim said.
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind suggests the appointment of an enquiry commission headed by a former Director General – Fire Services and Civil Defense to come up with a detailed report on the status of our infrastructure and preparation level related to fires and related emergencies and also draft a new policy pertaining to effective implementation of Fire legislation and improved methods of fire training and prevention.