Fire in Jammu’s Rohingya Refugee Camp: 18 Shanties Reduced to Ashes

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The fire erupted from an empty shelter at around 1 AM and within a span of a few minutes caused a huge damage, though no lives were lost.

Visuals of the raging fire show the camp that hosts around 54 families lit up in flames

Zafar Aafaq | Clarion India

NEW DELHI — Massive fire swept a Rohingya camp leaving at least 18 ramshackle shelters, to ashes in the Maruti area of Jammu city on the intervening night of Sunday and Monday, eyewitnesses and police said.

The fire erupted from an empty shelter at around 1 AM and within a span of a few minutes caused a huge damage, though no lives were lost.

Visuals of the raging fire shared by refugees showed the camp that hosts around 54 families lit up in flames.

“I woke up suddenly when I heard the noise and saw there was a large fire,” said Salamatulla, a Rohingya refugee who is a camp leader in the area. “We scrambled here and there for water to extinguish the fire.”

A police team and fire tender also rushed in to extinguish the fire. “They were able to bring the fire under control otherwise this whole camp would have been destroyed,” said Salamatulla who lost his home and shop in the fire.

A mosque and a Madrasa were consumed in the fire that raged for nearly two hours. The cause behind the fire is not immediately known.

Police officials in Jammu said that they are investigating the cause of the fire which is still not known. “A case may be registered later today after we collect the details from ground,” said an official at the Police Control Room in Jammu. 
The immediate fallout of the fire is that the families who lost their homes have nothing to eat as they are waiting for help from aid agencies. “Everything turned to ashes, we have nothing left to eat,” said Abdul Rehman, 26, a rag picker.

Jammu city hosts around 4,000 Rohingya refugees living in different camps for the past one decade. A vicious campaign, being led by some local Hindutva outfits, has turned the environment hostile for the persecuted community. Last month, police rounded up more than 160 refugees and put them in a holding centre. The action has sparked fear of deportation among the community.

(Abul Kalam contributed to this report from Jammu)

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