For Raju, it was divine intervention that saved his son Jahid’s life. Both Jahid’s mother and his elderly grandmother had gone out to work. His three other siblings who were playing away from the house were oblivious of the fire that broke out in their resettlement colony. The three-year-old was blissfully sleeping as the fire approached his shanty.
“Had it been any other day of the week, I, too, would have been out for work. Luckily today I was at the nearby mosque for my Friday prayers. It was there that I came to know about the fire. I rushed to the colony and by the time I reached my house, too, was engulfed by the fire. Thankfully, I managed pull my son out. I could not save anything else but I am glad I saved what is most important to me,” said Raju.
Usha Devi, however, was not that fortunate. Her son Manish, just as Jahid, was trapped in the fire when she along with her daughter had gone to the comb factory where she works. As Usha did not have a mobile phone, somebody from the vicinity of her burning house informed the owner Rajveer Singh. Rajveer, Usha and her daughter reached the house only to be told about Manish’s death. The incident has left Usha, who’s lost her husband recently, in a state of unbearable shock. Incidentally, Usha got her monthly remunerations on Friday after a week’s delay.
Before leaving home on Friday afternoon, parents of Sartaj left him at his grandfather’s jhuggi in the same area. A little before the fire broke out, Sartaj’s grandfather sent him to a shop to buy something. However, instead of going to the shop the little boy went to his own house and started watching television.
“When the fire started, my father was unaware that Sartaj had indeed gone back to his own house. Assuming that he was in the shop far from the affected area, both me and my father rushed for our own safety and were later told by the police that my nephew had died due to the fire,” said Shamsul, the brother of Sartaj’s mother. Shamsul added that his sister and brother-in-law had lost another son last year.
Those who were lucky enough to survive but sustained financial losses are worried about getting life back on track; most of them are worried about the compensation, if any, and whether it will be timely and adequate.