Four children injured in Jaigaon house fire

They were all locked inside the house on fire

Mishap: Three girls and a boy, all four-year old, were referred to Thimphu hospital after they suffered more than 40 to 50 percent burns on their bodies in a fire accident at the Chinese Lane, on Jaigaon’s side.

The children of four families were left locked from outside in a room.

The fire accident occurred at around 9am yesterday. The locals (Indian) in the neighbourhood broke into the room that was filled with thick smoke and took the children who were by then unconscious.

Mohamad Mustafez, 38, who rescued the children from the burning room said the room was filled with smoke and he could hardly see the children. He said the children had all cramped in one corner of the room where the fire was severe. They were clinging on to each other and were lifeless when I poured water on them,” he said. “I thought they were dead.”

Although exact details of the incident couldn’t be confirmed, locals said the children must have played with the fire inside the closed room. Some also said it could have started from butter lamps. Police officials are investigating the cause.

Residents were reminded of a similar situation at Toorsa where two children were killed when a hut they were locked in was razed to the ground last month. “If we were late by another two to three minutes, the children could have died,” Mohamad Mustafez said. Mohamad Mustafez also suffered a minor burn on his left foot. Another man also had burned his arm, locals said.

Most of the Bhutanese locals residing in the area did not know of the families. However, Indian locals said these children were always seen playing and speak fluent Hindi.

The incident, meanwhile, came as a reminder of safety issues as more and more Bhutanese flock to the cramped place looking for cheaper places to stay. There are no official records, but locals said there are close to 2,000 Bhutanese residing along this lane.

A landlord, Tilok Sharma, who has rented space to 17 Bhutanese families, said Chinese Lane is thickly populated with Bhutanese that come from low-income group. “They are here because rent is affordable,” the landlord said. Some, according to Tilok Sharma have been renting his apartments for more than 15 years now.

Bhutanese residing in the area also said it was affordable  to live in Chinese Lane and other areas in Jaigaon.

A private employee Norbu Gyeltshen who lives with his wife and a child said it was difficult to find a house in Phuentsholing.

“The ones available are expensive,” he said.

The private employee earns Nu 9,000 a month and pays Indian Rupee (INR) 4,500 as house rent.

Police personnel and firefighters from both Jaigaon and Phuentsholing helped contain the fire.

Rajesh Rai, Phuentsholing

1 reply
  1. logical
    logical says:

    Its disappointing that Bhutanese children should suffer due to SEVERE conditions pushing them away from habitable areas in own country. Often we hear of lives claimed by flood and often by fire. This time it is news about children getting half burnt in house at Chinese line at Jaigaon across the border in India which their parents found AFFORDABLE, paying up to INR Rs.4500 per month being 50% of their gross monthly income.
    The GNH STANDARDS paying more attention to AESTHETIC ASPECTS and other abstract things rather than considering for SAFETY pays blind eye to the needs for comfort of less fortunate nationals in the country. Several restrictions on building affordable housing forbid their presences in urbanities. The CHAUVINIST zealots knowingly set difficult standards, arguably UNNECESSARY making it harder for weaker section of society availing the security and comfort in own country. I equate this action as IRRESPONSIBILITY and COLD form of PERSECUTION of the poor whose rights they deprive.
    The people mentioned in thousands finding homes across the border spending up to 50% of their income presents two things:
    a. Their willingness to pay for living space and hence expecting nothing for free.
    b. The needs and comfort of thousands of our own people in little town that could be settled and provided by understanding and compromising on parts of urban building norms. It is evident now that same is deliberately neglected and there is nobody to take responsibility for such COLD behavior against public convenience.
    If there were to be efforts from members of the public for own good in absence of flexibility or clarity from government, anybody acts loyal and patriotic to the state and arrange for sabotaging the infrastructure, turning investment into waste. Who in Bhutan are so rich to play with authorities in such destructive manner to expect any of them struggling?

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