Chandigarh: An 18-month-old girl was charred to death after a fire gutted around 40-45 illegal hutments in Sundra village of Dera Bassi constituency in Punjab’s Mohali district.
The incident took place on May 14.
According to police, the hutments had come up illegally on shamlat land along the river over the last 25 years.
The families living in these jhuggis are mostly migrant labourers from Uttar Pradesh and work in the fields and factories close by.
Fire officials said preliminary investigation suggests that a spark from a fire in the nearby fields led to the blaze in the hutments.
A farmer, Jeet Singh, set the stubble in his field close by on fire and owing to the heat, the flames quickly spread towards the hutments. After starting the fire, he had left the spot.
Due to the flow of the wind, the fire spread towards the hutments and within minutes around 40 to 45 hutments were gutted.
As per the geographical situation of the shamlat land, it is almost 12 to 15 feet higher than the fields around where stubble was burnt.
Most of this area has remained a hotspot in terms of mining from last two decades.
Many residents expressed doubts that the fire is just an accident, but they believe that it was done with the intention of carrying out the mining activities in future.
The locals further suspect it to be a handiwork of local politicians belonging to the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), given that their business interests are involved in mining. “It seems to be a joint operation of these politicians cutting across party lines,” a resident alleged.