Two women burn to death in auto-rickshaw (Lead)

May 14th, 2009 - 10:37 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 14 (IANS) Two women sex workers were charred to death and another woman suffered burn injuries in the capital when the auto-rickshaw they were travelling in caught fire due to leaking compressed natural gas (CNG) early Thursday, police said.
According to the police, 32-year-old Nisha, a resident of Pratap Vihar in Ghaziabad and 33-year-old Khairunisa, of Sonia Vihar area, hired an auto rickshaw opposite the Regal Cinema around 1.30 a.m. The two were accompanied by another woman, Kamla, a resident of Kondli and her eight-year-old son Raj.

When the auto-rickshaw reached near the Shankar Market on the outer circle of the Connaught Place, one of the women alerted the driver, Harish, about the fire. He stopped the vehicle and got down to check while the women remained seated inside.

However, the fire spread fast across the auto-rickshaw reportedly due to gas leakage.

“Kamla and her son managed to get out of the vehicle, but the other two could not,” a police official said. Harish and Kamla fled the spot after the incident, but were later detained by the police for investigations into the case.

Asked why the deceased could not get out of the burning vehicle, the officer said they were sex workers and apparently in an inebriated state and thus got trapped inside the auto rickshaw.”

After the incident, Kamla went to her mother’s home. Her mother, Bilaso told reporters that Kamla had told her that someone set the auto-rickshaw on fire by pouring kerosene oil over it.

“Kamla burnt her hand in the mishap,” she added.

However, Bilaso later changed her statement. Kamla’s son Raj too changed his claim to journalists that his father set the vehicle on fire, later saying his father was dead.

“CNG and auto experts are carrying out inspection to know the cause of the fire. We are also awaiting the post-mortem examination reports to ascertain reason behind their tragic death. Forensic reports and other mechanical reports will clear the picture,” the police officer said.

“We are also questioning Harish and Kamla in the incident and will only register a case after getting the reports,” the officer added.

All public transport vehicles in the capital were converted to CNG following a Supreme Court order. An NGO had approached the apex court to complain about air pollution caused by diesel and two-stroke petrol engines.

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