18 shacks gutted in mysterious fire in Rohingyas’ cluster in Jammu

KT NEWS SERVICE. Dated: 4/6/2021 11:50:07 PM

JAMMU, April 5: About 18 shacks belonging to Rohingya refugees were gutted in a mysterious fire last mid-night in Maratha Mohalla, two kilometres from Jammu Railway station. No injury or loss of life has been reported.
The Rohingya community members said that 18 families were rendered homeless and a school and mosque were also among the gutted structures.
The fire started around 1 A.M. Talking to KTNS a Rohingya resident said, the fire raged for more than two hours and the flames doused off when the fire tenders were pressed into service, preventing the fire from spreading to the other shanties. “25 shacks are fully or partially burnt,” he said. Others put the number between 15 and 18.
A police official said that the fire started in a junkyard and spread to nearby shacks. Three fire tenders were immediately pressed into service to extinguish the fire and it was brought under control by 3 A.M., he said.
The cause of fire, he said, is not known. But investigations are on, he said.
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.
A Rohingya refugee said that the fire started from an empty shack which contained some scrap material. “That shack has no electricity. It is possible that the fire was not accidental,” he said.
Another said that the people in the adjoining shacks immediately noticed the flames and ran for their lives, without getting time to salvage their belongings and alarmed the rest of the locality. He said that SHO of the Trikuta Nagar Police station immediately reached the spot with his team and offered timely help. “Otherwise the entire colony housing hundreds of families would have been burnt down in no time.”
A Rohingya woman 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. We have nothing to eat……Everything was destroyed.”
Massive fires have earlier erupted in several areas inhabited by Rohingyas. In one of the worst fires, one of the biggest Rohingya clusters in Narwal was ravaged by a fire in November 2016. Eight people were reportedly killed, three of them charred so completely that only a few remnants of bone were left for the body count, a Rohingya from the area recalls. The fire incident which coincided with several anti-Rohingya campaigns by several political groups and others, triggered “sabotage” theories that gained ground after another fire broke out in a Rohingya camp in Bhagwati Nagar, less than a year later. Five huts belonging to the persecuted community were gutted in the Narwal area on the night of February 4 in 2019.
A fire incident was reported in the Maratha Mohalla, which also houses several other migrant labourers, earlier in June 2019. A total of about 240 shacks were gutted including 40 shanties belonging to Rohingya community.
Last month, about 150 Rohingya refugees were detained in a “holding center” that was set up in a jail in the Kathua district.
Supreme Court has reserved verdict on a plea against the deportation of the Muslim Rohingya to Myanmar where they, according to their lawyer advocate Prashant Bhushan, can be “killed or subjected to torture.”



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