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Saturday, Nov 16, 2019

Woman dies in Delhi fire. How cops struggled to reach parents in Kashmir

After Zoha, a Kashmiri, died while trying to jump from the balcony of her house to save herself in the fire at south Delhi’s Zakir Nagar, her friends and relatives struggled to inform her parents in Srinagar in the absence of any communication network.

delhi Updated: Aug 07, 2019 12:39 IST
Shiv Sunny
Shiv Sunny
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
People and police personnel gathered around the building in south Delhi’s Zakir Nagar where a fire broke out in the early hours of  Tuesday, August 6, 2019.
People and police personnel gathered around the building in south Delhi’s Zakir Nagar where a fire broke out in the early hours of Tuesday, August 6, 2019. (Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)
         

The body of 30-year-old Kashmiri woman Zoha, who was among six persons killed in a fire in a building in South Delhi’s Zakir Nagar on Tuesday, is being flown to Kashmir on Wednesday, police said.

After Zoha died while trying to jump from the balcony of her house to save herself, her friends and relatives struggled to inform her parents in Srinagar in the absence of any communication network.

Her parents live in Kashmir and there was no way of reaching out to them as all communication – mobile, internet and landline – was snapped on August 5 in the run up to the scrapping of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.

“When we failed to contact them, we sent one of the family friends to Srinagar by a morning flight on Tuesday,” said a senior police officer.

That friend informed Zoha’s family in Srinagar and proceeded to his home in Budgam district in Kashmir. “Zoha’s two relatives took a flight to Delhi and reached on Tuesday evening,” said the officer.

On Wednesday, they put Zoha’s body on an IndiGo flight. Accompanying her body are her husband, Umar, who was injured in the blaze, and the two relatives who had arrived from Kashmir. “The flight will depart at 2 pm,” said the officer.

Zoha and Umar had jumped together from the building when the blaze struck the four-storey structure. Umar had landed on a mattress spread out below because of which he escaped with few injuries.

Another family caught in the fire was that of Athar’s. When smoke begun filling in his third floor flat, 36-year-old Athar tried to keep his family calm. But, panic was rising with the smoke. Before he knew it, his wife Nagma rushed to the balcony. While he attempted to stop her, Nagma took the leap, Athar’s momentum tipped him over.

Nagma’s fall killed her, while Athar’s left him in the ICU in Holy Family Hospital. Their daughters, 10-year-old Aamna and eight-year-old Zikra died of asphyxiation in the flat. When Nagma was being buried on Tuesday evening, there were the two small shrouds(Kafan) nearby.

“If he survives, we don’t know who will break the news to him,” said Athar’s uncle, Mohammad Shahid.

Miraz Akhtar, uncle of a dead six-year-old boy, Adyan, was angry in his grief. “Why can’t the fire department work like beat policemen to better know the neighbourhoods they serve? Had they known the neighbourhood, they would have responded on time,” said Akhtar.

With fire tenders delayed due to the congested bylanes, it was local residents who carried out a major portion of the rescue operation. This included using hammers to break a side wall of the building, and laying out mattresses and holding bedsheets on the street to break the fall of the people jumping from balconies.

Survivors and local residents alleged that the rescue was also delayed because the electricity department did not shut down the power in the neighbourhood despite repeated requests.