Enraged survivors and victims of the building collapse that claimed 74 lives and left 65 injured on Sunday demanded justice following the arrest of two builders in Thane.
Police said that in all nine accused have been sent to police custody for 14 days and confirmed that the builders had paid bribes to get clearances from civic body officials to go ahead with the construction of the illegal edifice.
Police officials said the builders may not attract a murder charge as per the laws of the state.
Though rescue work had been wrapped up by National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) NDRF last evening, locals and victims were spotted at the collapse site looking at the rubble of homes-turned graveyard of their relatives.
A bereaved victim who lost many loved ones in the horrific tragedy urged speedy justice and death penalty for the culprits.
“They should nab the culprits, I hear one of them has run away to Delhi, while another person has been arrested. All those responsible for this tragedy should be arrested and punished severely. They should be hanged,” said Salma, one of the survivors of the incident.
Rescue workers used cranes and bulldozers searched for survivors in the wreck of steel and concrete until Friday. The seven-storey building crumbled on Thursday night.
Residents said labourers paying rent of 200-300 rupees a day had lived in it.
Senior police officials told mediapersons that two persons had so far been detained in connection with the case and investigations were underway.
“Both the men have been booked for culpable homicide not amounting to murder under sections 304 other than 336, 337, 338 including common intention. The Crime Branch is investigating the matter. So far we have arrested Jamil Qureshi and Saleem Seth, the duo has been detained for further investigation,” said Bipin Kumar Singh, Joint Commissioner, Thane Police.
A shortage of cheap homes in Asia's third-largest economy has led to a rise in illegal construction by developers who use substandard materials and shoddy methods in order to offer rock-bottom rents to low-paid workers.
A sharp rise in property prices in densely populated Mumbai over the past five years has put housing out of reach for tens of thousands of lower earners, many of whom moved to the city in search of jobs, and who now sleep on the streets or in slums.
In 2012, India's urban housing shortage was estimated at nearly 19 million households, according to a report by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation.
Though authorities are now probing the matter. Many Indian buildings do not conform to safety regulations, with owners constructing extra floors or structures without approval from the concerned authorities and beyond the sanctioned floor space index (FSI) or Floor Area Ratio (FAR).