Chaklala tragedy: House fire kills couple, five children

Forensic experts to determine cause of the incident

A section of the house that was completely burnt. PHOTO: ZAFAR ASLAM/EXPRESS

RAWALPINDI: Seven members of a family including five children were killed after a fire erupted in their house in the small hours of Wednesday, said rescue and police officials.

The fire broke out in the house in Chaklala Scheme-III due to short-circuit when all the family members were asleep in the upper-storey of the building, said a Rescue 1122 official.

The police said the deaths occurred due to suffocation and a section of the house was completely destroyed.

A rescue team shifted the bodies of Shaukat Ashraf, 35, his wife Ayesha Ashraf, 32, and their five children — Hassan, 14, Umar, 10, Mohsin, 8, Usman, 6 and Fatima, 4 — to the district headquarters hospital.

According to the police, the family was residing in the upper storey and the deceased’s brother-in-law, Anjum, in the ground floor.

A resident of the area, requesting not to be named, said that seven people lost their lives in the upper portion and the family residing in the ground floor had escaped which was surprising and should be investigated.

He said that the rescue officials were called two hours after the fire broke out in the house situated in Street 10, by a neighbour who was residing in Street 8.

Airport SHO Abdul Sattar Khan told The Express Tribune that short-circuiting had apparently caused the fire, but the possibility of premeditated killing of the family could not be ruled out.

Shaukat’s family had an ongoing property dispute with his brothers, the SHO said. Muhammad Ali, one of his brothers, had died in a similar incident in his house located next to Shaukat’s house. However, his children and wife survived. Sources in the police said that the Airport police did not register a case when Ali died.

The SHO said that a team of forensic experts had been called from Lahore and they would determine whether the cause of the incident.

He said Shaukat recently married Ayesha after his first wife died of cancer, adding his mother was unhappy with his recent marriage.

“Investigation has been widened and everyone in the extended family will be investigated,” the SHO said.

When asked why the police did not register a case when Shaukat’s brother died last year, the SHO said that his subordinates were trying to find out the exact date when the incident took place and was reported to them.

Rawalpindi RPO Wasal Fakhar Sultan directed his subordinates to investigate the matter from every angle.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 18th, 2015.


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