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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

Grief turns to anger in Kolkata

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Kolkata, February 28, 2013
First Published: 21:49 IST(28/2/2013) | Last Updated: 21:51 IST(28/2/2013)

A day after a massive fire killed 19 and left a busy Kolkata market charred beyond recognition, tears refused to dry and the sense of loss slowly turned to anger.

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Many lost sole earning members of their families and yet others survived only to see their lifelong savings go up in flames. There was resentment, as many suffered unbearable financial loss in the Surya Sen market fire.

"The chief minister (Mamata Banerjee) announced compensation only for the dead and injured. What about us who survived but have no livelihood left?" asked Rabindranath Ghosh.

With both his shop and godown gutted in Wednesday's fire, Ghosh is left with nothing.

Fighting back tears, the Khardah resident said, "It would have been better had I died, at least my family would have got Rs. 2 lakh to start a new business."

On Thursday, the neighbourhood remained tense as shopkeepers were given a last chance to rummage through the debris.

Groups of shopkeepers sat huddled in corners discussing their losses, their associations with the deceased and how the fire could have been avoided.

For Sharmila Samaddar, Wednesday's fire took away her third brother.

She lost her two brothers long back, one of them to another such fire. Samaddar was inconsolable at the morgue, where she went to claim her brother Santosh Das's body.

While the police and forensic experts tried to ascertain the cause of the fire, shop owners in neighbouring buildings were apprehensive that their buildings, now weakened, may be the next to go up in flames.

"The area is dotted with old, congested buildings with wires dangling dangerously. Many lack the requisite fire safety equipment," said Uttarpara resident Ashok Basu.


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