New Delhi: About 50 shanties housing 226 Rohingya refugees in southeast Delhi’s Sarita Vihar were gutted in a fire that broke out in the wee hours of Sunday.
According to police, the cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained, however, preliminary investigations point to an office building located next to the JJ slum camp where the fire could have started, which soon spread all over the camp.
“No one was injured, except a resident of the camp who received minor burn injuries on his hand. Three cylinders also exploded during the rescue operation by police and fire department officials,” said a police officer.
Most of the Rohingya refugees escaped with only their lives intact; all documents, clothes, food, utensils turned to ash.
“We are yet to ascertain the cause of the fire. It began at 3 am. We called the fire station by 3.15 am and they arrived around 3.55 am. Fire tenders took almost four hours to douse the fire in the area where around 60 families live. In the camp all the homes were made of asbestos sheets and they are all completely gutted,” Ali Johar, a resident of the camp and UN volunteer said according to National Herald.
“The toilets were the first ones gutted. The fire spread so rapidly that we got no chance to salvage our belongings. We could barely save our lives. Some of the residents were able to save their documents, but most weren’t. The fire was about to spread to a nearby slum where Indians reside, but by then the fire tenders arrived and they were able to contain it,” he added.
The camp is surrounded by clusters of shanties where people of all religions reside. “We have cordial relations with the people living in the surrounding areas. We celebrated Holi together. We invite each other for marriage functions. So we don’t suspect any foul play,” he maintained.
Another resident said that camp residents had hired a private security guard to keep a check during night but he had not been reporting for duty since the past three months. “We are very poor people and have no source of income but we had to pay Rs 6000 per month to him. But for three months, the guard was not coming,” said Javed.
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