Baitul-ul-Hilal Fire Incident
Srinagar: At Baitul-ul-Hilal orphanage, which was gutted in fire this week, burnt logs, pieces of paper, which were once someone’s books, and pieces of window panes, are the remnants. The quilts are in ashes.
The orphans navigate helplessly over the shattered parts of building to find anything useful.
Most of the building is turned into charcoal and ashes. The storage trunks, which were once full of belonging, are lying in an open air.
When this reporter reached the spot, the victims were staying in under construction building of the Baitul-ul-Hilal run by JK Yateem Foundation at Jawahar Nagar. The adjoining structure was partially damaged.
At around 25 orphan children were enrolled in the orphanage at the time of the fire.
Yaseen Ahmad, an orphan, narrated the ordeal of that night with some emotional surge. “It was around 9.30 p.m. We have had our dinner and we were busy with our work. Suddenly I went downstairs. I noticed that there was a smell beneath the ladder. When I was going to see what that was there, within the blink of an eye, fire engulfed the building. I hastened to go upstairs to tell the other students about the fire. Somehow we escaped. Within no time the fire consumed the whole building,” he said.
We tried to save our belonging, he said, but the flames were raging and we couldn’t save anything. “What we are wearing is the only outfit left with us. We don’t have shoes,” Yaseen said.
Another student, Sahil Ahmad, recounted that everything was normal. “Suddenly a fire broke out, and after that, they couldn’t differentiate what belonged to them and what not. All they saw was chaos and they could hear crying of other children,” he described.
It was a haunting scene, Sahil said. “We were all in tears. I was shocked to see that the place where we live was in flames. Nothing was left. There was stuff all around, burning. Clothes, books, furniture all scattered before our eyes,” he said.
As per the account of students, locals came first and tried to save their belongings. But according to the locals, the fire was so enraging that they couldn’t do anything. Even the fire tenders who reached the spot after half an hour, they also could not control it as the area is very congested.
“We all are orphans. Some have been living here for 10 years. This is our home. But nothing is left of it now. We are not able to understand what we will do on these chilly days. We lost everything,” said a group of students.
Dr. Tariq, General secretary of the Bait-ul Hilal orphanage, told Kashmir Reader that student’s loss each and everything which they have. “We could only save our important document. We have shifted students to the under construction building. Many people came here for a donation. District development commissioner (DDC) Srinagar, Syed Abid Rashid, also visited the spot. He donated 50 blankets and said we should prepare a list of books and stationeries, and assured that these will be provided to enrolled students within days.”
“We will take care of these children. We will do each possible thing for them. We hope everything will be fine in coming days,” Tariq said.
Mohammad Ayoub, the warden of the orphanage, told Kashmir Reader that he could only save the registry of the students and nothing else. When asked about the reason of fire, he said that they don’t know the cause of the fire.