Three tourists from Bangladesh died in a massive fire in a group of houseboats in Srinagar on Sunday that also reduced five houseboats and seven residential houses to ashes.
The houseboats caught fire early in the morning, prompting authorities to launch an operation to rescue the civilians and douse the flames.
“The fire has killed three Bangladeshi tourists, who were all male. I don’t have their names as their documents got burnt during the fire,” Mohammad Asif, owner of the Safina group of houseboats, told The Telegraph.
“We have lost five houseboats and the seven adjoining residential structures worth around Rs 20 crore. I was in Delhi and returned in the afternoon following the tragic incident.”
Police identified the deceased tourists as Anindaya Kowshal, Das Gupta and Mohammad Moinud.
The police said the conflagration quickly spread and engulfed five houseboats — Safina, Sabreena, Young Gulshan, Lala Rukh and Khar Palace.
“Seven residential huts and neighbouring houses in the vicinity were also gutted in the ensuing blaze,” a police spokesman said.
During the day, deputy commissioner of Srinagar Aijaz Asad, who visited the spot, had said they had rescued all the civilians.
“Five houseboats opposite Ghat number 9 and some adjoining huts were damaged in the fire. All the agencies including the SDRF (State Disaster Response Force), Jammu and Kashmir police and the fire and emergency services department tried to bring the fire under control. Residents and tourists were immediately rescued and taken to safe places,” Asad told reporters.
“Additionally, four more houseboats could have caught fire but were immediately relocated because of which further damage was prevented. As I said, no loss of life was allowed.”
The death of three foreign tourists has put a question mark on the claims of authorities of doing enough to prevent the loss of lives.
Encounter in Pulwama
An encounter broke out on Saturday between security forces and terrorists in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir, police said.
“#Encounter has started at Parigam area of #Pulwama. Police and security forces are on the job. Further details shall follow,” Kashmir Zone Police posted on X.
According to officials, the police and army launched a cordon-and-search operation in the Parigam area following information about the movement of terrorists there.
Initially, there was a brief exchange of firing between the terrorists and the security forces, after which the cordon was tightened and the search intensified, the police said.
No casualties have been reported so far, they added.