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SOURCE: Express News Service

The investigation conducted by the Yelahanka police into the Aero India Show 2019 fire mishap has revealed that the overheated engine and silencer of a car caused the fire after it came in contact with fully grown dry grass in the domestic parking area, resulting in more than 300 cars being gutted. About 90% of vehicle owners have got compensation from insurance companies so far.

These findings of the investigation report were placed before the Karnataka High Court on Thursday, in response to directions issued by the court which is hearing a PIL filed by Wing Commander G B Athri (retd) and advocate Geetha Misra.

They have sought the appointment of a judicial commission to probe the mishap. In the report submitted before a division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum, on the fire mishap that took place on February 23, 2019, the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Yelahanka Sub-Division, explained that 277 cars were fully burnt and 44 cars were partially burnt.

Concluding that the mishap was accidental, the investigating officer also stated that 242 vehicle owners have received compensation from insurance companies while the owners of vehicles having no valid licence and 35 vehicles having third-party insurance had not received compensation, it said. Referring to the statements of 11 eyewitnesses, the officer said that HAL had replied that the Domestic Parking Area (P-4) was under the Indian Air Force.

To establish the cause of the fire, samples of burnt articles were sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory for examination. The report was submitted to the Tahsildar of Yelahanka taluk, to close the case registered on the based on the complaint filed by Wing Commander, Air Force, Yelahanka, the investigating officer said. Meanwhile, the counsel for HAL indicated before the court that the entry of the general public is unlikely for Aero India 2021 at Bengaluru. 

After recording the submissions and taking the report into account, the bench directed the Ministry of Defence to file an affidavit stating the measures to be taken to ensure such mishaps do not recur. If parking is allowed, the Air Force should take precautions with the support of local authorities, it said. The matter was adjourned to February 17 toconsider the MoD’s affidavit.