Even as the adults around them have begun picking up the pieces after the Sunday blaze that ravaged Kotla village in Banjar sub-division of Kullu district, all schoolchildren Mamta Thakur, Tanu and Bhuvneshwari can think of is how they will continue school.
Having lost her books in the fire, Mamta, a student of Class 5, tugged at her mother’s clothes, asking, “How will I got to school without books?”
As she spotted this correspondent, a stranger in her hamlet, she turned to him with her poignant face, “Uncle is anybody going to help us? We lost our home and my books. But I love to study. How will I continue school?”
Class-6 student Tanu and Bhuvneshwari, who’s in Class 3, said in a choking voice, “The day after the fire, we tried to sift through the remains of our house to locate our books. But in vain, as everything had turned into ash.”
A helpless Devki, Mamta’s mother, said, “I have no answer to give to my children, as we have lost everything in the fire. We are now relying on assistance from the state government.”
Quite similar is the plight of all children of the village, which was turned into rubble within minutes on Sunday evening, leaving them both homeless and hopeless.
Meanwhile, relief work continued at the village, where the district administration has sent food material, blankets and tents to provide temporary relief to the affected families. Apart from this, aid from various NGOs and other social organisations has been pouring in.
Personnel of the Home Guard, state police and Sashastra Seema Bal have been deployed to help the villagers.
Mandi member of Parliament (MP) Ramswaroop Sharma, who visited the village on Sunday night, announced a relief of Rs 10 lakh for the villagers’ rehabilitation, while former horticulture minister Satya Prakash Thakur donated Rs 10,000.
Chief minister Virbhadra Singh will visit the village on Wednesday to review the relief work.
The fire on Sunday evening destroyed 72 houses at the village and claimed the lives of 40 livestock, leaving the villagers homeless and bringing their life to a standstill.