On Tuesday, residents of a slum at Tilak Nagar in Sakinaka, confronted the sight of the bodies of five-year-old Shehzaad and his seven-year-old sister Gulshan Shaikh, found in an embrace, charred in a fire that gutted their house.
The Sakinaka police said the fire started, reportedly due to a short-circuit, on the ground floor, which was a furniture shop, then moved up to the first floor, where the children lived with the rest of the family.
Ishrat Jahan (17) and Kamrunisa (55), relatives of the dead children, sustained severe burns. They are recuperating at Rajawadi Hospital in Ghatkopar.
A total of seven members of the family were in the room at the time of the fire, including the children’s parents.
Witnesses said that while the elders managed to escape, Shehzad and Gulshan were sleeping in the room along with a goat the family had bought to sacrifice on Bakri-eid.
Shafaqat Hussain (45), a neighbour, said: “When the children’s bodies were removed, it was a hearten-wrenching sight. They were found embracing each other, and many in the area cried on seeing the bodies.”
Fire brigade officials said although they managed to reach the area in time, they lost precious minutes simply trying to get to the fire because they couldn’t enter the narrow bylanes of the slum.
“I don’t know why the almighty has snatched those little angels from us,” said Abu Huraira, the children’s maternal grandfather.
“Although prima facie it seems the fire began due to a short-circuit, we are continuing our investigations” said Senior Police Inspector S R Dhanedkar of Sakinaka police station.