Blaze erupts in a slum in Kolkata’s south-western fringes with some claiming it as sabotage

A fire that broke out in a slum in the Maheshtala area in the city’s south-western fringes, razing nearly 700 shanties in the early hours of Saturday morning, stirred up a major controversy as cries of “sabotage” were raised with fingers being pointed at Trinamool Congress leaders. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee termed the incident a small one, stoking passions further.

This is the second time in four months that a fire broke out in the slum, spread over six acres. Angry residents alleged that the fire was a deliberate act and suspected the involvement of the chairman of the Maheshtala Municipality, Dulal Das.

“For some time now, we were being told that we will be evicted from the area on a three-month notice. Who could have thought that they would burn down our houses instead,” said a woman who lives in the area.

The Chief Minister however sought to dismiss the controversy describing the fire as a “minor” incident.

The Chief Minister’s remarks, however, were only grist to the mill of the conspiracy theory with Leader of the Opposition Surya Kanta Mishra pointing out that “you cannot burn down houses and then say that the people will be rehabilitated.”

Not only the Opposition, but suspicions were also raised from within the Trinamool Congress with Mumtaz Begum, the party’s MLA from Metiabuz also questioning the frequency of fires at the slum and “the reasons behind it.”

  • Second time that a fire has erupted in the slum, spread over 6 acres

  • One resident says there was talk of their eviction on 3-month notice