Fire at Delhi’s Rohingya refugee camp turns savings into ashes

Sunday morning’s fire wiped out the refugees’ savings within a matter of minutes. Another challenge for the Rohingyas would be to re-obtain their United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) cards issued to them at the point of settling in India.
A major fire broke out at the Rohingya camp at Kanchan Kunj near Kalindi Kunj, in New Delhi.(Burhaan Kinu/HT Photo)
A major fire broke out at the Rohingya camp at Kanchan Kunj near Kalindi Kunj, in New Delhi.(Burhaan Kinu/HT Photo)
Updated on Apr 16, 2018 01:35 PM IST
Copy Link
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByShubhomoy Sikdar

For the past two years, Khurshid Alam, 30, was saving money to buy a new auto-rickshaw to replace the rented auto that he drove around. Till Saturday evening, the 90,000 kept in his house at a make-shift camp near Kalindi Kunj in south Delhi assured Alam that he was very close in meeting his goal.

On Sunday morning, within a matter of minutes, all of Alam’s savings had turned to ashes after a massive fire burnt down all the camps where around 250 Rohingya refugees lived.

Alam, like Burmese neighbours in the Rohingya camp in Kanchan Kunj, lost everything he owned. Alam, who has a family of eight, that includes six children, said they now have to start life from scratch, just like they did when they had first come to Delhi.

Most men from the Rohingya camp work as daily wage labourers or run small shops and keep their savings in cash. Sunday morning’s fire wiped out all their savings, apart from other belongings such as jewellery and mobile phones.

Locals said while some families lost all their savings, others had lost their source of livelihood, as the small shops that they ran selling stocks of food and other articles, mostly to fellow refugees, had been now reduced in ash.

“My husband does not get work every day and I contributed to the family income by sewing. But the sewing machine that we had bought from our hard-earned money is gone now,” said Kulsum, who goes by one name, one of the local residents.

The second hand desert coolers or refrigerators, that some of the relatively well-off refugees had managed to buy this season, were also gone and the scorching heat of the Sunday afternoon painted a picture of the days to come. “I had purchased a cooler but the relief was short lived,” said Abdullah, who works as an Imam in a nearby mosque.

Locals said that another challenge for the Rohingyas would be to re-obtain their United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) cards issued to them at the point of settling in India, the only valid identity card they have in the Capital and the country. Mohammad Sadiq, an administrative officer from the Zakat Foundation, a social organisation, said that a record is maintained at the UNHCR local office in Delhi, from where they can get the cards re-issued.

Zakat foundation, which has been helping the Rohingyas in resettling, said they had also offered to rebuild the houses and set up tents.

Several government departments, and even the Delhi Police and students from Jamia Hamdard University have also come forward to help the displaced men. Locals said police arranged breakfast for all the displaced men in the morning , with a group of students from Jamia Hamdard University bringing clothes for them later in the day.

Close Story

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • Bihar has been grappling with a huge shortage of teachers in state universities. (File Photo)

    Bihar education minister asks varsity panel to expedite asst prof appointment

    Bihar education minister, Vijay Kumar Choudhary, on Saturday reviewed the ongoing appointment of assistant professors in seriously understaffed state universities and asked the Bihar state university service commission (BSUSC) to complete the exercise latest by December 31, 2022 by focusing on subjects having higher number of vacancies. The commission became functional in 2019 with the appointment of Dr Rajvardhan Azad as its first chairman and completed its three-year term.

  • Shivraj Singh Chouhan celebrating MP's title win. (

    Shivraj Chouhan hails MP team on winning maiden Ranji Trophy title | Watch

    Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Sunday congratulated the state's Ranji Trophy team, shortly after it defeated heavyweights Mumbai to win its historic maiden Ranji Trophy title.

  • Satish Poonia alleged that Ashok Gehlot used the agencies against his own people (File Photo/PTI)

    Ashok Gehlot using agencies as weapon for his defence: Rajasthan BJP chief

    Bharatiya Janata Party Rajasthan state chief Satish Poonia on Saturday alleged that chief minister Ashok Gehlot is using State agencies as a weapon for his defence. His statement came after the additional district session judge of Jaipur issued notice to Union jal shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat in connection with a case of attempting to topple the state government in July 2020. Out of revenge, he used the agencies against his own people, Poonia said.

  • Officials said that robotic firefighters were also used in dousing the fire that broke out in the north Delhi plastic factory. (Representative Image)

    Fire breaks out at plastic factory in North Delhi

    A massive fire broke out in a plastic godown during the wee hours of Sunday in the Badli area in the outer north district of Delhi. According to people familiar with the matter, 23 fire tenders were dispatched to the spot shortly after the incident. The Delhi Fire Services officials said that a call regarding fire in a godown, stacking plastic granules, in Badli area behind Rohini jail was received at 2.18am.

  • The event welcomed all those who feel marginalised due to their gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, physical ability, and language. (Photo: Manish Rajput/HT)

    Rainbow shines bright on DU’s horizon

    When young voices come together, their force can bring about a change. That's what made the students of Delhi University chant, “We come together, we move apart, we remain queer,” when they got together at Bharati College, for the three-day fest, Horizon. The rainbow might take time to make an appearance in Delhi skies, but at this fest organised by Iris, the queer collective of Bharati College, it sure made its presence felt.

Story Saved
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Sunday, June 26, 2022