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Father, infant killed in fire

Bongaigaon, Dec. 29: A man and his 45-day-old daughter were charred to death in their sleep after a fire broke out in a building at Bhawlaguri in the New Bongaigaon area around midnight last night.

Bhola Banik, 30, his wife Seema, 25, and daughter Rashmi used to stay in the eight-room building with six other families. Neighbours managed to drag Seema out of the fire but not before she suffered 80 per cent burns to her body. She has been admitted to a hospital.

The others staying in the building were unhurt.

The owner of the house, Kitab Ali Munsi, had rented out his thatched house, along the main road at Bhawlaguri, to seven underprivileged families. Bhola, a day labourer, and his family had been staying in the room for the last six months.

Bhola paid Rs 300 as room rent and Rs 50 for electricity.

Lalu Sah, a tenant, said the fire broke out in Bhola’s room after midnight when everyone was asleep.

Lalu said he had lost all the documents belonging to his father Babulal Sah, a railway serviceman who died two months ago, in the fire. “It will be hard to receive ex gratia payment from the railway department without those papers,” he said.Neighbours said the fire was either caused by a short circuit or by a fire that may have been lit in the room to keep the baby warm.

Locals of Bhawlaguri said despite repeated calls, the fire tenders took one hour to reach the spot, by which time the entire house was gutted.

The police were also late in responding to the situation, the residents alleged.

The bodies have been taken to Bongaigaon civil hospital for post mortem and police are investigating the incident.