By Taniya Dutta
A slum in India was engulfed in huge inferno after police had tried to clear the homes.
Over 300 shanties were gutted in the fire in the Behrampada area -once home to Slumdog Millionaire star Rubina Qureshi – in Mumbai.
But incredibly nobody died in the blaze which injured three firefighters and a resident.
The tragedy struck when authorities from the governing Brihan Municipal Corporation along with a strong police team had reached the dwelling which stands mostly on railway land on the eastern periphery of Bandra railway station, to remove encroachments.
A high court directive had demanded the area to be cleared around the pipeline before December for safety reasons.
The local council had planned to clear around 400 huts and had demolished around 70, when the fire started in a hut adjoining the footbridge around after a gas cylinder exploded.
One local Munna Qureshi said: “We were not allowed to move our belongings. The BMC’s demolition machine hit a hut where someone was cooking, and it caused the fire.”
At least 16 fire engines and ten water tankers fought for four hours to get the fire under control.
Chief fire officer P Rahangdale, who was guiding the operation, said: “The area is a fire trap. It was difficult to take the fire fighting system inside, and we poured water from all sides to control the fire.
“Fire was confined to electric installations, scrapped material such as plastic and garments, kerosene, LPG cylinders and wooden furniture in the hutments.”
Slum dwellers alleged that the BMC had given them notice on Wednesday night to vacate their premises within 48 hours, but started the demolition drive before the deadline. The BMC denied the allegation, and officials said the drive has been stopped only temporarily for the fire.
Huge tufts of smokes could be seen billowing over the Bandra station in the visuals captured on mobile cameras of locals.
This is the second major fire in the slum cluster since 2011, when over 3,000 people were affected. Thursday’s blaze has affected well over 1,000 people.