A day after a fire gutted three shelter homes in Kashmere Gate, hundreds of homeless people remained stranded along the Yamuna, waiting for the authorities to find them alternative accommodation Sunday. While government officials said they will be shifted to other locations in North Delhi, many were seen waiting by the riverbank.
N H Sharma, director (night shelter) at DUSIB, said, “We are trying to shift the people to nearby schools. Arrangements have been made and over a hundred men will be shifted to a school in Chabi Ganj tomorrow. Till then, food packets will be given to homeless people.”
A Delhi Police spokesperson said that seven men from the shelters that were burnt down yesterday have been sent to 14-day judicial custody. DCP (North) Monika Bharadwaj said, “A case has been registered under sections of rioting, damaging public property and assault.”
Police suspect the incident was a result of rumours spread to incite people.
A day before the fire, residents at the shelter and civil defence volunteers had clashed over distribution of food. Though DUSIB employees and the caretaker alleged a group of agitated men attacked the volunteers, several shelter inmates had complained that the volunteers allegedly manhandled them, forcing one of them to “jump in the canal”.
Later, a body was found along the river — while police said this was unrelated to the shelters, the discovery of the body riled occupants, leading to stone pelting.
“The body is not of anyone from the shelter as nobody here is missing,” said Nishu Tripathi, in-charge at the shelter.
Veerpal, a civil defence volunteer, said, “For the last two weeks, there have been clashes over food and space. After the lockdown was announced, authorities shifted hundreds of men here. Though we get donations, fights do break out.”
“It all happened within five minutes and volunteers escaped the fire while also helping a few residents who were inside. We have collected evidence to ascertain the cause of the fire. We suspect it was a rumour some men spread to incite others,” said a senior police officer.
Based on the evidence, police suspect the men used kitchen items to torch the three cabins.
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