Fire brigade attacked over 'delay'

Blaze destroys four houses near Raiganj

By KOUSHIK SEN in Raiganj
  • Published 4.01.18
The homes gutted in the fire. Picture by Kousik Sen

Raiganj: At least five employees of Raiganj fire station were beaten up by people at Manipara, a village on the outskirts of Raiganj town, on Tuesday night for allegedly reaching late to douse a blaze that gutted four houses.

An official of the department has later filed a complaint at Raiganj police station.

The attack has left officials of the North Dinajpur district administration worried. They are mulling over a proposal to send police with fire engines when they move to remote areas to douse blazes.

Local people said a fire had broken out at the house of Sasthi Mondal around 11pm on Tuesday. It then spread to three other houses located nearby.

"We immediately called up the fire station and informed them about the blaze. All of us also tried our best to douse the flames but the fire was intense and went on destroying houses once after another. Although it takes hardly 15 minutes to reach here from Raiganj, the fire fighters arrived after almost an hour. Due to the delay, all four houses were gutted," said Nitai Das, a resident of Manipara.

The alleged delay left the residents aggrieved, a section of whom resorted to an attack.

They started pelting the fire tender with stones as it entered the village.

"We rushed to the spot immediately and there was no delay. But the moment we arrived there, some local people started throwing stones at us. As we tried to pacify them and requested cooperation so that the fire could be extinguished, they attacked us with bamboo sticks. Some of us were pushed to the ground and mercilessly beaten up for no reason," Jayanta Kumar Bose, one of the fire fighters, said.

Bose and others somehow managed to leave the village.

Sources at the Raiganj fire station said the incident had left them scared. "The employees are feeling insecure and apprehend similar attacks, particularly in remote areas," said a source.

Nitai Chandra Mondal, a fire officer, said they had filed a complaint with the police.

"We hope the police would take necessary steps against the attackers, who assaulted our staff without any provocation. There was no delay on our part," Mondal said.

Following the incident, Ayesha Rani A, DM, North Dinajpur, said she would speak to police officials.

"Such attack would naturally create a feeling in insecurity among employees of the fire station. We would speak to senior police officials on a proposition as whether a police team can be sent with fire-tenders, particularly when they move into villages and remote areas. Presence of policemen, we feel, can prevent such breach of law and order," said the DM.