Over 50 families were rendered homeless after a major fire broke out at a Rohingya refugee camp in Haryana's Nuh district on Sunday afternoon, according to reports. No casualties were reported.
"It took us almost three hours to douse the flames," The Indian Express quoted a fire officer as saying. "Prima facie, the blaze appears to have been caused by a short circuit," he said. The police added that they were not approached by anybody to register a case.
A total of 215 people lived in the shanties, the report said. "All our belongings are gone. All that is left are the clothes we are wearing," a resident said. The report added that a makeshift camp was organised to house the affected people on Sunday evening.
"Unless basic necessities are provided, we will continue to witness such incidents. Time and again, we have apprised the UNHCR of the poor living conditions in the camp and how the camp is susceptible to fires. So far, no concrete steps have been taken to improve the situation," a Hindustan Times report quoted Rohingya youth leader Ali Johar as saying.
The report added that the MLA in Nuh district, Zakir Hussain, said immediate relief should be provided to those affected. "The government should compensate for the loss and temporary shelter should be provided to the refugees. They should be rehabilitated as soon as possible since it is the month of Ramzan, and they would need a space for fasting and praying. Basic food and shelter facilities should be extended to them," Hussain said.
The incident comes over a month after a Rohingya refugee camp was destroyed in Delhi's Kalindi Kunj area, leaving 55 Rohingya families homeless.
The colony was built and looked after by Zakat Foundation, led by social worker Zafar Mahmud. He told Firstpost that the NGO jumped into action soon after it came to know about the fire. "Since all their belongings have been destroyed, we have taken measures to rehabilitate them... We are also planning to provide permanent shelter homes for them," an official said.
Residents of the colony suspected that the fire was caused not by accident, but by miscreants as an attempt to make them vacate the land so they can then grab it. However, Zafar Mahmud of Zakat Foundation rules out the possibility of miscreants having caused the fire.