Saturday morning proved to be unfortunate for nine-year-old Vinita, when the night shelter tent she was sleeping in caught fire.
The tent was set up near Bangla Sahib Gurudwara and caught fire around 2am. There were around 30 people sleeping in the shelter at the time, which was set up specially for women and children. While most of them were able to escape, Vinita got trapped. “Everything went up in flames around 2am. We tried to bring everyone out but could not save Vinita,” said Vimla, who also sleeps in the shelter.
According to the police, the tent caught fire due to a short-circuit. This is not for the first time that a shelter has caught fire and taken the life of a child. In January 2011, another tent shelter at Jama Masjid had caught fire because of a short-circuit, killing an eight-year-old child. In February 2011, another tent shelter at Jahangirpuri had caught fire.
NGOs working with the homeless have been demanding that NDMC open a permanent shelter for the homeless in their area to accommodate a large number of homeless living in the area. “There were only two tent shelters, of which only one remains now,” said Abhilasha Sihag, member, Indo-Global Social Service Society, an NGO that works with the homeless in the city.
Even though there are more than 15,000 homeless women in Delhi, there remains only one homeless shelter for them now.