Gujarat BJP Rajya Sabha MP claims he paid bribe to get fire NOC in Rajkot

Clarifies he bribed deputy fire officer nearly five years ago, when he had not yet been elected to Rajya Sabha

A screengrab from CCTV footage of part of the fire (source: PTI)
A screengrab from CCTV footage of part of the fire (source: PTI)


Senior BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat, Ram Mokariya, has claimed that he paid a bribe of Rs 70,000 to obtain a no objection certificate (NOC) from the Rajkot Municipal Corporation’s fire department.

His statement came days after 27 people were charred to death after a massive fire gutted TRP Game Zone, a Rajkot-based recreation centre, which was allegedly being operated without a fire NOC.

Speaking to the media on Thursday, Mokariya shared his "personal experience to highlight widespread corruption” in Rajkot. The BJP leader also clarified that he gave the bribe to deputy fire officer B.J. Theba nearly five years ago when he was just a businessman and had not been elected to the Rajya Sabha.

Mokariya is the founder-chairman of a well-known courier company and was elected to the upper house of Parliament from Gujarat in 2021. “I gave Rs 70,000 nearly five years ago to Theba to get a fire NOC for a project. I have learned he is now being questioned by police for his alleged role in the game zone fire. I just wanted to highlight that corruption is widespread and I have made representations about it in the past too,” Mokariya told reporters.

According to the BJP leader, the fire officer had returned the bribe money to him after he became a Rajya Sabha member. “Everyone knows that corruption is everywhere. I have been exposing corrupt officials for a long time. In the past, I had openly said Rajkot’s town planning officer had been indulging in corruption for the last 10 years,” Mokariya said.

The Gujarat government has suspended seven officials, including two police inspectors, after the Rajkot game zone fire on 25 May. Five persons, including the owners of the game zone, have been arrested so far, while three IPS officers have been shunted out of Rajkot after the tragedy.

The Gujarat High Court on Monday came down heavily on the Rajkot civic body over the game zone fire, saying it had no faith in the state machinery which gets into action only after innocent lives are lost.

The court asked the Rajkot Municipal Corporation if it had turned a blind eye to such a big structure coming up in its vicinity after the RMC’s lawyer submitted that TRP Game Zone, which was set up in the city’s Nana-Mava locality, had not sought requisite permissions.

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