Himachal Pradesh: Man, 3 minor kids die in early morning blaze, wife survives with minor injuries

The deceased man's father, however, suspects foul play behind the incident, prompting the police to send all the bodies for post-mortem to Chamba Medical College.

Four members of a family, including three children, died after their house in Chamba’s Karatosh village in Himachal Pradesh caught fire in the early hours of Tuesday. While the children seem to have suffocated to death, their father was burnt alive, police said.

The mother of the children sustained minor burn injuries and was rushed to a nearby hospital where her condition is stated to be ‘out of danger’.

Police said that the Tissa fire station received a call at about 3am about the blaze at one Rafi Mohmud’s house. By the time firefighters reached the spot, Rafi (25), his daughters Zaitun (6), Jhulka (2), and son Samir (4) had died. They, however, rescued Rafi’s wife Bhura, who had sustained some burns.

In her statement to the police, Bhura said that the family had gone to sleep at around 9.30pm on Monday.

Around 3 am Tuesday, Bhura woke up after feeling suffocated. By then the room was full of smoke due to fire. She alerted her husband and rushed out. However, before Rafi and the children could escape, the fire engulfed the room. Since there is no other house nearby, seeking help, Bhura ran to her sister-in-law’s house, some 200m away.

The family members broke open a window and entered the room, SHO Tissa, Joagender Kumar said, adding by that time Rafi’s two daughters had died from suffocation. His son was found breathing and was brought out of the house, but soon after he too succumbed to the smoke. Rafi’s charred body was found inside the house later.

Bhura told the police that a 10-litre jar of petrol was kept near Rafi’s bed, which might have caught fire. She, however, has not been able to explain how the petrol ignited and said that her husband must have been smoking before going to bed.

Bhura’s father-in-law, however, suspects foul play behind the incident, prompting the police to send all the bodies for post-mortem to Chamba Medical College.

When asked where Rafi’s parents were at the time of the incident, the SHO said that they were at a temporary Dhara, which was built beside the cattle shed far away from the house. Rafi’s younger brother, too, was with them in the night.

SDPO, Salooni Mayank Chaudhary, said that they have not ruled out any possibility and investigations in the case was ongoing. A forensic team team from Dharamsala too had reached the spot in the evening and collected samples.

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