Hemlata, a woman in her early Twenties, stood weeping in front of her charred house in Masoodpur slum cluster on Friday. Her husband offered her some rice to eat but she refused. She is expecting her first child and had made all arrangements to welcome the newborn in the house in the next three months. But there she stood – homeless and devoid of all hope.

Hundreds others who lost their homes like Hemlata are now spending their time amid the burnt remains of the homes they had built with their hard-earned money.

Inspecting the damage he suffered in the inferno, Satish (35) said: “I work as a security guard in the colony next to the slum cluster. This morning I was at work when I saw smoke coming out from the huts. My wife was also at the house where she works as a maid. I rushed here as my children were all alone in the house. Thankfully, by the time I reached my children were rescued by the neighbours, else I would have lost them.”

“I have lost all my saved money and everything I bought from my meagre savings. I don’t know where we will go now,” he said looking dazed.

Ikram-ul-Haq (65), one of the oldest members in the area, is now reaching out to people, consoling them and giving them food. After losing his wife to an illness last year, Mr. Ikram now stays alone. “I do not have a family to bother about, so I am helping these people get their lives back on track. The blaze has destroyed everything, all of us are now homeless. It will take a lot of effort and help from the government to build these houses again.”

Asked about help from the government, he said: “Let’s see what they will do...every time some tragedy happens, they come to console us and promise money. They promise one lakh and give one thousand. Today also some people from the local administration came and took down our names on paper. They asked how much damage we suffered and promised to compensate us accordingly.”

It is difficult to say how long it will take for these people to get a new home...As of now, they are forced to stay out in the open with memories of what was once their home.

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