Mumbai: At the Behrampada slums in Mumbai’s Bandra, thousands of families are spending the night in the open, some by the railway tracks as locals whizzed past them. A huge fire that broke out this afternoon in the slum burnt down their houses, leaving them homeless.
Among them is 90-year-old Amina Qureshi, perched on a stool. She’s staring at the rubble that was once her house. When we ask her if she has somewhere to go, Mr Qureshi says, “Where will I go? I’ll be out in the open. I don’t even have my medicines with me.”
Ms Qureshi’s 32-year-old grandson Anwar takes us deep inside the debris. Even after the fire was put out, what remains of their house is still smouldering. Anwar blames Mumbai’s civic body BMC for today’s tragedy.
“The BMC came and served us a notice yesterday and asked us to vacate the homes. And then this morning they landed with bulldozers and with a lot of force. Then a cylinder blast happened. The BMC doesn’t care whether we sleep on platforms or out in the open,” says an angry Anwar.
Shakeela Khan and her five children are now homeless, with their belongings completely gutted. Tonight they will also go hungry.
She says “Much of our belongings were lost in the fire. We don’t even have cylinder to cook a meal.”
70-year-old Najmunissa is squatting in the squalor. She was at work in south Mumbai when she heard of the demolition drive and rushed home. Distraught, she says, “I could not save anything I could only save my life. We don’t have a home. Will they give me a home now?”