On 5th November 2020, Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM) along with National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM), Natt Ghumantu Samaj Kalyan Samiti and Magadh Foundation visited the slum at Bhupura Krishna Vihar, Kutti, Ghaziabad Slum Area where the houses were set ablazed on 3rd November 2020 at 9:30 -10:00 pm , burning down approximately 150 to 200 shelters out of 250. There was no person who got injured in the incident and the fire brigade was able to douse the fire. Most of the people living in the colony belong to the occupation of ragpicker and are migrants hailing from West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. The team inspected the sight and interacted with families. Here are few excerpts from the interactions: –
1. Rinki Devi a ragpicker who migrated from Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh 14- 15 years ago along with her husband used to live here in a shelter with her family. She narrated that it was night time, while they were sleeping, cries were heard from outside. They came out of shelter and saw fire. Everything happened all of a sudden and all their belongings got burned down. They are left with their kids and clothes on body. She says ‘hum log soch rahe hain kanhi jaa ke marr jae, esi zindagi jine se bekar hai, koi sahara nahi’ translates to where should we go and die, this life is waste and we have no support.
2. Pinki migrated from West Bengal 25 years ago. She lives with her husband and children, the youngest being few months old, cried in front of the team saying that she cannot even cover her youngest child and might resort to begging as a means of survival.
3. Shariful Sheikh, a 43year old man from West Bengal who was a ragpicker and a daily wage labourer is a father to six children; four girls and two boys, living along with his family. He said that he was barely able to save his family and doesn’t know what he will do now to survive.
4. Shakeela Bewa told the team that not a single thing could be saved in the fire. They are left with no penny and no clothes. She is a single mother with two girls and two boys. She used to earn Rs. 6000 per month. She urges the government to provide them with some help.
The team was told that on 4th night, some person (unidentified) came to distribute clothes but not everyone was able to get it. No help has been provided by government officials although few people have visited the site of accident.
The financial situation of all these families was deteriorated due to covid 19. After unlock, ragpickers started working again and were able to feed themselves. Most of the people used to collect garbage from Delhi. No one knows how the fire started but everyone knew how it ended- burning up every little thing they had.
Ø Click here to Testimony of Victims-