Srinagar: Burnt quilts, trunks, wedding suits and wooden logs all tell the horrific tale of the fire that ripped through Gassi Mohalla on Wednesday in Safa Kadal area of downtown Srinagar.
Storage trunks, once full of the bridal belongings of Rubina Jaan, were lying open at one side of the lane, most of their contents charred to charcoal and ash.
On October 17, Rubina Jaan was busy putting together her wedding things as her marriage was scheduled for next week. Fate, however, had something else in store for her.
“At 4.30 pm that day, everyone was busy with their work when my brother told me someone was yelling and crying outside. When we looked through our window, we saw that fire had engulfed the house of Mohammad Maqbool Sheikh, and within a blink of an eye, it had spread to more than eight houses,” said Rubina Jaan
“It took me many years to collect the things I had, and within minutes, everything was changed into ash,” the distraught Rubina lamented. “I have loss everything. I am not able to understand what we will do. It will take years for us to recover from this huge loss.”
A brother of Rubina said that all their property and items worth lakhs that they had recently bought for the wedding were burned down to ashes; they could not even save the bride’s recently-purchased wedding finery. Terror for their lives before the huge flames prevented the family from approaching it to try and quench the flames, he said, and as a result they lost all the bridal jewellery to the fire.
“The marriage is within a week, and we have lost all in the flames. We will definitely fail to solemnise the marriage now since we had spent all our savings on the eve of the wedding,” he said.
When this reporter reached the place where the victims were staying in tents, women were crying as they consoled one another.
People from the neighbourhood came to help and tried to save their belongings, the victims said, but they were unable to do anything before the raging blaze. Even the fire tenders that reached the spot half-an-hour later could not control it as the area is very congested
“We are all homeless now, we are not able to understand what we will do in these chilly days. We have lost everything, our children have lost their study material and all they had,” said Nazir Malik.
“The fire started from the house of Mohammad Maqbool Sheikh,” he continued. “We are not able to understand from which floor it started, nor do we know its cause. We only know we have lost each and everything we owned.”
“It was a haunting scene,” said a shattered Aarezan Farooq. “I saw many people all around, all of us are crying. I was shocked to see that place where we live. Nothing was left there. There was stuff all around. Clothes, books, furniture – all scattered. I was unable to tell which things belonged to me.”
A senior official at the Fire and Emergency Services Department told Kashmir Reader that they were able to reach the site within no time due to hartal in the city. “There was no fire gap between the houses, but somehow we were able to control the fire.”
The eight houses burnt ashes included those belonging to Ghulam Muhammad Wani, Ali Mohammad Wani, Mohammad Maqbool Sheikh, Noor Mohammad Kundgi, Mohammad Saleem Kundgi, Basheer Ahmad Gugree, Ahdhul Rahman Wani and Javeed Ahmad Matoo.
Apart from these, many houses were partially damaged, including the houses of Abdul Qayoom, Sajjad Ahmad Khandai, Ab.Hammed Gilkar, Tariq Ahmad Khandai, Arsheed Ahmad Khandai, Mohammad Saleem Khandai, Ghulam Mohmaad Khandai and Mohmaad Ashraf Langoo