DODA, Apr 20: Around 16 buildings housing camp office of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and three dozen shops were reduced to ashes in a devastating inferno that broke out in the main market of Bhatyas in tehsil Bhallesa of Gandoh Sub Division late last night.
As per police sources, fire broke out in the main market Bhatyas at around 12 am yesterday, which spread rapidly and damaged SSB camp office and 34 shops as most of buildings were made of woods.
“We informed the fire stations of Thathri and Gandoh, which are situated at a distance of 16 km from Bhatyas. Before the arrival of fire tenders people with the help of local police started extinguishing fire”, said a senior police official.
“The fire was controlled around 5:30 am in the morning but by then 18 buildings housing SSB camp office and 34 shops were completely damaged”, he said, adding “no one was injured in the incident”.
Police have registered a case under FIR Number 27/16 under Section 436 RPC and started investigation into the incident as this is the second major fire incident in past one week in Sub Division Gandoh. On April 15, 28 shops and 8 residential houses were gutted in a similar midnight fire incident in Gandoh market.
The structures, which got damaged in the inferno belongs to Mohammad Amin Tak of Bhatyas, Aamir Malik and Zeeshan Malik, both residents of Manoie, Jagdish Kumar of Jhakyas, Mohammad Latief Tak and Mohammad Younis Tak, both residents of Bhatyas, Nisar Ahmed Malik of Manoie, Riyaz Ahmed Malik of Manoie, Imtiyaz Hussain Malik of Manoie, Ghulam Mohammad Sheikh of Pullie, Akhter Hussain Batt of Bamboo, Mohammad Ayoub Koka of Bhatyas, Mohammad Ameen Tak of Bhatyas, Mohammad Latief Batt, Mohammad Iqbal and Ghulam Hussain, trio residents of Bhatyas, Romesh Gupta of Bhatyas, Haji Mohammad Akbar Batt of Bhatyas, Pervaiz Ahmed Tak of Bhatyas, Javaid Iqbal Naik of Manoie, Abdul Majeed Naik of Bhatyas and Suresh Kumar of Bhatyas.
Meanwhile, demanding compensation, the people blocked the road near Bhatyas. Amid slogans against the State Government and district administration, the people alleged handiwork of some miscreants behind this fire incident. The protesting people demanded a high-level inquiry into the repeated fire incidents. They also demanded disbursement of compensation to the fire victims.
On getting information, Deputy Commissioner Kishtwar Bhupinder Kumar and SSP Doda Mohammad Shabir rushed to the spot and assured the protesting people that a partial inquiry will be conducted into this fire incident. On their assurance, the protestors dispersed and vehicular movement on the Bhatyas road was restored.
Union Minister in PMO Dr Jitendra Singh, who is also Member Parliament from the area, on getting information about the incident, spoke to the Deputy Commissioner Doda to ascertain the damages caused by the devastating fire.
Observing that lack of fire station in the belt was the reason behind delayed action on the part of Fire and Emergency Services Department, Dr Jitendra Singh asked the Deputy Commissioner to project the demand of fire fighting centre in the belt so as to ensure prompt action in case of any such incident in the area in future.
The Union Minister said that he will personally talk to Director Fire and Emergency Services in this regard. Keeping in view the apprehensions of the people about involvement of miscreants in the repeated fire incidents, Dr Jitendra Singh, who is also planning to visit area in the coming days, asked the Deputy Commissioner to constitute Special Investigation Team (SIT) to find out the truth.
Later, on the directions of Union Minister, Deputy Commissioner Doda constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) comprising of Gazetted and Non-Gazetted officials of the Police Department to investigate the matter.
When asked about some inflammable substances found on the fire incident spot, DC told EXCELSIOR that few LPG cylinders were there in a shop, which exploded. “We have started investigation and everything will be made public after SIT submits its report”, he added.
Meanwhile, Raj Bhawan spokesman said that Governor NN Vohra is saddened to learn about the damage to residential and commercial properties caused by last night’s fire. He has advised restoration work to commence forthwith and provision of relief.
Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti has also expressed grief over this fire incident. Chief Minister has directed the District Administration Doda to extend all possible help to the fire victims by way of providing temporary shelters and daily use items.
Senior Congress Leader and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad has expressed deep shock and grief over this tragic fire incident. He expressed his serious doubts about the cause of fire, since this is the second incident in seven days.
“I am told that some powder like inflammable substance was seen at the site of fire. This has given room to suspicion of a foul play. Authorities must look into the causes of repeated fire incidents at this particular site”, said Azad.
“My all sympathies are with the affected families. State administration must provide immediate help and financial support to all those affected by devastating blaze”, he said and demanded immediate provision for fire-fighting equipments for areas like Gawari, Bathri, Kahara, Malikpora, Gandoh and Bhatyas.