After a fire devastated Chalantika slum in the capital’s Mirpur around five months ago, middle-aged Hazera Begum was struggling hard to get back on her feet.
But she was dealt a fresh blow yesterday. Fire broke out again at the slum, reducing around 400 shanties to ashes and leaving two seriously injured.
A cook at a garment factory, Hazera used to live with her son at a shanty at the slum, but she lost everything in the August 16 fire.
“After the incident, we passed several days right under the sky … We built a new shanty after some NGOs came to our rescue and gave us aid.
“But now, everything is finished again,” she said yesterday, sitting next to the ashes of what used to be her home.
Lima Khanam, an official at the control room of Fire Service and Civil Defence, said the fire broke out around 4:15am yesterday.
On information, 15 firefighting units rushed to the spot and brought the fire under control around 5:45am, she said.
What caused the fire could not be known till last night.
Lima said a slum dweller, Parveen, 35, suffered burns in the fire and was admitted to the burn unit of Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
Hospital sources said almost 90 percent of her body was burnt.
Another person, Shahidul, who was injured in his leg, was admitted to a private hospital, Lima said.
Visiting the spot yesterday morning, this correspondent saw a signboard of the Ministry of Housing and Public Works near the slum. According to the board, the land of the slum is designated for a project meant for people from the lower and lower-middle income group.
Talking to The Daily Star, a slum dweller, Abdul Mannan Sheikh, 60, said he woke up to screams of his neighbours.
He said although he, along with six family members, managed to run to safety, the fire razed their home to the ground.
Meanwhile, several slum dwellers suspected that the incident could be an act of sabotage as a quarter was trying to evict them from the slum.
“They want to evict us. That’s why they set the fire,” said a woman.
Asked, Abul Kalam Azad, officer-in-charge of Rupnagar Police Station, said they were not aware of any act of sabotage in regard to the fire incident.
Two probe committees were working to find out the cause of the fire, said police and fire service officials.
Last night, Hazera was gazing blankly into the distance, sitting on a road adjacent to the slum.
Approached by this correspondent, she said her husband and two daughters live in their village home in Pirojpur’s in Mothbaria and
she sends home Tk 5,000-7,000 every month.
“My husband is bedridden. My daughters go to school. How will I manage everything now,?” asked a worried Hazera.
“My husband is suffering from various illnesses. My daughters go to school. How do I meet the expense?” she said.