Almost 10 days after a massive fire, which broke out at the plastic manufacturing plant of Family Plastics at Manavila, the Thiruvananthapuram City police on Saturday arrested two persons on the charge of arson. The arrested persons were employees at the company and a deduction in their wages is alleged to be the reason behind the sabotage.
The two accused have been identified as 19-year-old Bimal, a native of Perumkuzhy in Chiyankeezhu and 39-year-old Binu, a native of Karyavattom. They have been remanded into custody for 14 days by a special investigation team led by Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) R Aadhithya.
The production unit and the godown of Family Plastics caught fire on the night of October 31 and even as fire force units reached the spot, the fire could only be put out on the morning of November 1.
Both the employees, who used to work as helpers in the manufacturing unit of plastic cups and other products, were unhappy about the reduction in their wages because of their low attendance and because of turning up late on some days.
Speaking to the media, R Anil Kumar, the Assistant Commissioner of Police of Kazhakuttam - Cybercity, said that Bimal, who is the prime accused, had set the plastic covers in the godown on fire using a cigarette lighter.
Anil Kumar said that a CCTV footage had shown both the employees entering the factory on the top floor of the three-storeyed building after their shift got over at 7 pm on October 31. They were seen quickly exiting the factory just before the fire.
“Their intention was to create panic among the management and also hoped that short circuit would be believed to be the reason behind the fire. However, the fire outbreak exceeded their expectations,” said Anil Kumar.
In the preliminary investigation into the massive fire, it was found that the excess storage of raw materials was what could have fuelled the fire.
The fire and rescue service officials, after their preliminary investigations, had blamed the factory owners for the accident. Investigators had also found that the factory was lacking the basic fire-fighting system. They also suspect that the plant was functioning with a No-Objection Certificate.
Speaking to TNM on October 31, Tony Joel, secretary of Family Plastics, said that the godown caught fire first, and spread quickly to the production unit on the first floor. Due to billowing winds and the highly flammable nature of plastic, another godown nearby, which also belonged to Family Plastic, caught fire.