Jammu: More than a dozen shanties of Rohingya refugees were gutted in a massive midnight fire in Jammu on Monday, April 5.
Officials said that the fire started in an empty shack and within no time engulfed the jhuggies within close periphery in Jammu’s Maratha Basti.
“The fire started nearly at 1 am in the night and raged for more than two hours. Three fire tenders were pressed into service,” senior superintendent of police (SSP), Jammu, Chandan Kohli said.
He added, “By the time, the flames were doused, it had already destroyed 18 shelters. No injury or loss of life has been reported.”
“It seems as if the fire started from a pile of scrap and within no time engulfed the jhuggies of close periphery, but we have taken cognisance and are still investigating,” said station house officer (SHO), Trikuta Nagar, Deepak Pathania. The Naib Tehsildar of the area was also present at the spot.
The cause of the fire is not known but Rohingya residents allege that an unknown person had deliberately started the fire. However, no witness saw a person lighting the fire. Moreover, the fire started from an empty shanty, even as piles of inflammable scrap including empty alcohol bottles, plastic bottles, paper waste lay adjacent to the shack.
Maratha Basti is home to migrant labourers from different states and is situated at a distance of two kilometres from the Jammu railway station. This slum area is also occupied by Rohingya refugees, who live in a different cluster.
Even in June 2019, a massive fire had engulfed the entire slum settlement at Maratha Basti wherein nearly 150 shelters were burnt to the ground.
Rafi, a 55-year-old Rohingya refugee said, “I was asleep when the fire started. When I woke up because of the fire, I rushed outside with my family and could not salvage even one pair of clothes.”