Over 500 huts destroyed; cause of fire yet to be ascertained
MYSORE: More than 500 huts in a Tamil colony in Mandya were destroyed in a fire that broke out on Monday.
Commissioner of Mandya City Municipal Council Ramaswamy told The Hindu that more than 5,000 people had been rendered homeless in the blaze.
Though the cause of the fire has not been ascertained, the authorities summoned additional fire tenders from Maddur and Mysore while a battery of firemen battled for several hours to control the raging fire.
The fire was first noticed in a hut with thatched roof around 3 p.m., and within minutes the flames engulfed nearby huts in the slum. Though the residents initially tried to extinguish the fire with bucketsful of water, the efforts failed to yield results, sources said.
With the fire spreading fast across the slum, the dwellers were forced to abandon their homes and rush out with whatever belongings they could carry.
The slum-dwellers, who were angry with the authorities for the delay in rushing fire tenders to the site, staged a protest on the Mysore-Bangalore highway, disrupting the traffic for almost three hours. An angry crowd of slum-dwellers vented their ire on the firemen and police officials. One fire tender and a police vehicle were stoned by the enraged residents of the slum.
Thammaiah, driver of a circle inspector’s jeep, was hurt when the glass pieces of the vehicle’s windscreen hit his head. He has been admitted to the government hospital.
The angry crowd heckled Additional Superintendent of Police Krishna Raju and tore the shirt of a sub-inspector of police when the police personnel tried to calm down the agitated slum-dwellers.
The protesters, who blocked the Mysore-Bangalore highway, also resorted to stoning of vehicles.
The police said vehicles plying on the highway were diverted from Mandya after a KSRTC bus, a truck and a car were stoned. The protestors refused to call off their agitation until Deputy Commissioner Manjunath Prasad, who was away in Bangalore to attend a meeting, returned to Mandya and promised to meet their demands.
Though the Headquarters’ Assistant to the Deputy Commissioner, Chandrashekar, reached the spot, the protesters refused to heed his plea.
Mandya Superintendent of Police Ramesh, who was also in Bangalore on official duty, rushed back to Mandya later in the evening.
Meanwhile, the authorities have decided to accommodate the residents of the Tamil colony in government schools, a nursing college and an IMA hall.