MUMBAI, India – A Catholic nun says a fire that killed at least 11 people in the Indian city of Hyderabad is a sign that “human life has become very cheap” in the country.
Hyderabad, a high-tech hot spot, is located in the center of the country, but the victims were from the poor, northeastern state of Bihar. Migrants from the area often work in poor conditions in the richer parts of India.
At least a dozen migrant workers were sleeping in a scrap warehouse where they worked when the fire broke out early Wednesday morning. Police said the only avenue of escape was blocked by a closed shutter. Only one person survived, and was being treated in a local hospital. The bodies of those who died were sent to Bihar on Thursday morning.
Presentation Sister Dorothy Fernandes works among the poor and marginalized in Patna, the capital of Bihar.
“This is another incident of callous governance. Human life has become very cheap,” she told Crux.
“Hyderabad is a high-tech city, people seem to be highly educated, then why is it that norms are not in place?” Fernandes asked.
She also noted the decision by the central government to compensate the victims – their families will receive around $6,500 each – is ignoring the core issue of income security in India.
“By announcing a sum amount by the central government, will that compensate for bread winners? Why does the government not promise to give them a job which will be secure? These promises never get fulfilled,” she said.