Two BJP Corporators are facing police investigation in connection with an incident where five members of a Nepalese family immolated themselves, leading to death of three of them here on Wednesday.
The five set themselves on fire in Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC)'s central zone office on April 3 fearing eviction from the house they had been staying in for 30 years.
Three of them, Bharat Mansingh Vishwakarma (40), his wife Asha (35) and brother Girish (27), died at Civil Hospital here, while two other family members Rekha (30) and Vasumati (60) are battling for life.
Girish, in his dying declaration, named BJP Councillors Kamlesh Mirani and Rajbha Zala and alleged they had threatened to evict the family members from their house in Chhotu Nagar Cooperative Housing Society.
Police Commissioner H P Singh today said names of these Corporators were mentioned by Girish in his statement recorded before his death. "On the basis of Girish's statement we have started probe against the two Corporators and will arrest them if required," Singh said.
However, both Corporators have rejected the charge levelled against them and said Opposition Congress was politicising the issue.
The family members took the step fearing they would have to surrender their house after losing a case against the housing society in a civil court. Society members wanted them to vacate the plot and had approached the court and BJP-ruled RMC for their eviction.
The family was allowed to construct a small hut in 900 sq yard common plot of housing society in Raiya Dhar area. But they covered the entire plot and built a full-fledged house, leading the society members to move court. Bharat Vishwakarma worked as a security guard at the housing society.
RMC has announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the family, while Congress said it will provide a financial assistance of Rs 1 lakh.
Meanwhile, Gujarat Congress has demanded a CBI probe into the entire self-immolation episode.
"In his dying declaration, one of the deceased revealed the involvement of two Rajkot BJP Councillors. We demand an investigation by CBI so that the truth behind the incident comes out in the open," state Congress President Arjun Modhwadia told the media in Ahmedabad.
Earlier, Modhwadia, along with party leaders, visited the Rajkot Civil Hospital, where the injured family members are being treated, and expressed dissatisfaction over the quality of medical care being provided to them.
"Rekha and Vasumati are in critical condition and they should be given best possible treatment. But the state government is not concerned about their well-being. The two women have been kept in the hospital's lobby," he said.
The family had to take the extreme step due to pressure from the local BJP leaders, Modhwadia alleged.
"Though this family was living on a private plot, RMC authorities had served them a notice for demolition of their home. Not only that, members of a land mafia who has patronage of local BJP leaders, were threatening this family," he said.
"Till today not a single BJP leader has visited the family or shown sensitivity towards their suffering."
Citing the UPA Government's approach in aftermath of the Delhi gang-rape case, Modhwadia said "Culprits were nabbed immediately, Prime Minister and Congress chief met the victim's family, gave the best available treatment to her and even air-lifted the girl to Singapore for further care."
"But here, the BJP Government has neither shown sensitivity or sense of responsibility towards the family nor announced any compensation," the Congress leader maintained.
"Government should immediately transfer them (women who suffered burns) either to a good private hospital or to an Ahmedabad hospital so that their lives can be saved."
"We hope (BJP President) Rajnath Singh, coming to Ahmedabad tomorrow (for a party event), will at least care to visit Rajkot and meet the survivors," he said.
Meanwhile, All India Nepalese Community Secretary Bheem Bahadur Thapa too visited the Rajkot hospital and enquired about the condition of the two women.
He described the RMC's financial aid to the victim's family as "a cruel joke". "Pushing a family to commit suicide and then announcing compensation is a cruel joke on the family."
Thapa also met RMC Commissioner Ajay Bhadu and the Police Commissioner.
Rajkot had observed a total bandh yesterday to register their protest against the shocking incident.