It seemed to be just another pleasant afternoon in Damu Nagar Slum, located in Kandiwali area of India’s business capital Mumbai but in actual it was not of the kind that holds the warmth and brightness within but the one that brought the deadly fire from the Hell to turn the lives of inhabitant of this slum to the ashes.
7th December 2014, around 12:30 noon- A lethal fire broke-out due to an explosion in LPG Cylinder and within no time entire Damu Nagar Slum was in the grip of blazing fire. With the blink of an eye dozens of shanties caught fire followed by several more explosions. People were clueless – no one has any idea about what to do- except just to run towards wherever was the way available to save oneself from the blistering fire.
In these dreadful moments, when it seemed everything would be turned into the ash, what the Swayamsevaks of RSS did- was indeed the incredible act of utmost courage. “We heard a deafening explosion, while attending the function at a school near Damu Nagar and we came out to inquire what happened exactly”, recalls RSS Swayamsevak Shashi Bhushan Sharma. He along with the other sawayamsevaks namely Umesh Damle, Pradeep Sharma, Chand Raina, Sanjay Khetan and Manoj ran towards the direction of explosion and saw huge fire blazes in Damu Nagar. They informed the Fire Department and rushed into the slum.
It was so horrifying inside the slum. Ruthless fire was melting down everything under it’s seize and hapless people watching their fortunes reducing to dust. Meanwhile, Shashi Ji saw a cylinder caught a fire. He swiftly jumped on it and threw it away from the people. Simultaneously a helpless disabled old lady lying on the ground caught his sight, who was crying for help. Shashi Ji rescued her to the safe place.
According to Sehdev Ji, a RSS full timer and Sangthan Mantri at Jan Kalyan Samiti within one hour of this fire accident 350 Swayamsevaks from Dahisar to Jogeshwari area joined the rescue work. Seventy children were missing from the tragedy site. Swayamsevaks launched an extensive search and found all the missing kids and handed over to their parents.
In this disaster 2 dead and 1250 households lost everything. Shelters for victims were erected in a ground in Lokhandwala but no one was willing to move there form the heap of ashes, where once used be their houses. Reason for not to quit the slum was to be added in the compensation list being prepared by administration. RSS started massive relief drive that continued for 5 days. Total sum of 35 lakh collected and spent to distribute food packets and Smart Kits of daily necessities. “I had never seen such courage and human values that Swayamsevaks showed during that fire tragedy”, says Prashanti Mane, who was posted there as Magistrate there that time. Even for finding and handing over the compensation cheques to the families of those who died in the tragedy, local administration took the help of Swayamsevaks. People from all strata came forward to donate for the relief drive. “One day a poor old lady came to the relief center and donated all the rice she had in her ragged bag”, tells Shashi Ji, which made him really emotional.