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Posted at: Apr 21, 2017, 1:06 AM; last updated: Apr 21, 2017, 1:06 AM (IST)

SSB office, 16 buildings gutted in Doda market

Locals protest, block Thathri road

  • The mysterious fire started around 10.45 pm on Wednesday in in the main market of Bhatyas in Doda district’s Bhallessa area. There was no report of any injury or casualty to anyone in the incident.
  • Hundreds of affected people on Thursday blocked the Thathri-Gandho road in protest, affecting traffic movement for over five hours
SSB office, 16 buildings gutted in Doda market
Firefighters douse the fire in the Bhallesa area of Doda district on Thursday. Tribune photo

Our Correspondent

Doda, April 20

A Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) office, 16 residential buildings and 34 shops were gutted in a devastating blaze that broke out in the main market of Bhatyas in Doda district’s Bhallessa area on Wednesday night.

The mysterious fire started around 10.45 pm last night. However, there was no report of any injury or casualty to anyone in the incident.

The police and locals made efforts to douse the flames which were engulfing more structures mostly made of cedar and pinewood.

“We informed the fire stations at Thathri and Gandoh as the Bhatyas market is 16 km from both stations. The fire was controlled at 5.30 am, but by then, 16 structures, 34 shops and the office of the Sashastra Seema Bal were completely damaged,” said Sub-Divisional Police Officer, Gandoh, Sunny Gupta.

Meanwhile, hundreds of affected people today blocked the Thathri-Gandho road in protest, affecting traffic movement for over five hours.

Protesters demanded a high-level inquiry into the repeated fire incidents in the Bhallessa area in which they claimed property worth crores had been damaged and hundreds of people had been left jobless.

“The government and law enforcement agencies have failed to solve the fire mysteries. In recent past, there have been a number of major fire incidents in the area. We want a high-level inquiry into them. We also demand compensation for the affected families,” said a local.

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Doda, Shabir Choudhary said: “The police have started investigation and constituted a Special Investigation Team to unearth any foul play. This is the third major fire incident in the area. We have assured the people that we will crack the case in 20 days.”

“We have increased patrolling and set-up checkpoints at various places. I have asked my officers to increase vigil, especially during nights, and keep a check on suspicious movements of non-locals,” the Senior Superintendent of Police said.

On April 15, 26 shops and eight residential houses were gutted in a midnight blaze in the Gandoh market, 16 km from Bhatyas. On February 10, four shops and two residential houses were damaged in a fire incident at Malikpura in Gandoh.

Governor, CM express concern

Srinagar: Governor NN Vohra has expressed concern over the damage to residential and commercial properties caused in a fire in the main market of Bhatyas in the Bhalessa area of Doda district. The Governor advised restoration work to commence forthwith in the damaged properties. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti also expressed concern over the fire incident in which more than 40 residential and commercial establishments were gutted. She directed the district administration to extend all possible help to the victims by way of providing temporary shelters and items of daily use to them. TNS

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