Meghalaya: Century-old Shillong Bar Association building gutted in massive fire | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Meghalaya: Century-old Shillong Bar Association building gutted in massive fire

ByDavid Laitphlang
Feb 25, 2024 05:55 PM IST

According to building chowkidar Bhola Yadav, the fire was detected by his daughter around 10.15pm. She alerted Yadav, who then immediately called the fire and emergency services. However, by the time they reached, the building was already gutted

Shillong: The heritage century-old Shillong Bar Association building in Meghalaya’s East Khasi Hills was gutted after a massive fire broke out on Saturday, people aware of the matter said.

The fire broke out around 10.15pm on Saturday (Twitter/@SangmaConrad)
The fire broke out around 10.15pm on Saturday (Twitter/@SangmaConrad)

The fire, which broke around 10:15pm, quickly spread across the age-old wooden structure, engulfing the entire office in flames.

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The fire, attributed to a short circuit ravaged the lawyers’ hall, the library, pigeon-hole lockers that stored lawyers’ gowns and essentials, and two ridiculously small rooms that were occupied by some lawyers, people mentioned above said.

According to building chowkidar Bhola Yadav, the fire was detected by his daughter around 10.15pm. She alerted Yadav, who then immediately called the fire and emergency services. However, by the time they reached, the building was already gutted.

Speaking to the HT, Yadav said that a single fire tender arrived after getting the information but by the time they began dousing, the building was already gutted.

“It was only when we pointed to the gravity of the fire that more fire tenders arrived, but by then, the damage was already done,” Yadav said.

Member lawyers informed that thousands of documents, dating back almost a century, were destroyed in the fire. “Some can be recovered from guard files at the court, but other documents that we as lawyers have preserved for our clients are gone,” a senior lawyer on condition of anonymity told HT.

Shillong Bar Association president HR Nath expressed shock and sorrow at the unfortunate incident. “This is a very old structure indeed, and we have been pursuing to preserve our records through digitalisation, but we are yet to fulfil that. Many precious files have been destroyed,” Nath told HT over the phone.

Meghalaya fire and emergency services inspector general Francis G. Kharshiing commended his personnel for containing the fire well within two hours, thus spreading to the sessions court and the office of the East Khasi Hills deputy commissioner.

“According to our call logs, we received a call at 10:15pm, and two fire tenders were dispatched from Bara Bazar. I myself was there in eight minutes. We did our best to contain the fire, and thankfully, we were successful,” he said.

Kharshiing said that all such government structures are under the radar of the fire and emergency services audit.

“It is a matter of critical concern, and hence, we are striving to identify such precarious but precious structures that establish our past in history. That’s why we are persevering with the audit to achieve this mission,” Kharshiing told HT.

Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma upon being informed about the incident, reached the spot along with his deputy Sniawbhalang Dhar, chief secretary Donald Philips Wahlang, and senior government officials and took stock of the situation.

“Took stock of the situation at the Shillong Bar Association office. It is a very unfortunate incident, but we are relieved that there is no casualty. The century-old infrastructure is damaged. We will monitor the situation and ensure minimum damage,” Sangma posted on X.

Extending his solidarity to the lawyer fraternity, Sangma said, “It is painful and very sad with a heavy heart to see the scale of destruction to the office of an established pillar of democracy.”

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