Night time and suddenly the fire, panicky people running here, there and everywhere and the end result shops gutted in the still marketplace!
I have visited Loran in District Poonch about a dozen times but I still remember the first time I went when I was studying in Government Degree College Poonch. It was a college picnic and I had no idea as to what the place would be. On reaching there I stood stunned admiring the beauty of nature. Though I did know some great names in English literature such as Keats, Shelly, Byron, Tennyson, Wordsworth, Robert Frost, so many of them in fact and had read their splendid poetry but it always bothered me as to how did they develop their creativity and from where did they get the ideas to weave a maze of words so mesmerizing. Suddenly it struck me that they must have visited some wonderful naturally beautiful place like the one where I was standing!
The place is a paradise. It isn’t just the sights that please the senses. The sounds, smells and tastes are out of this world also. The sky above Loran is a feast for the eyes. It stretches as far as the eye can see in a dome of cocktail-blue, punched with fluffy clouds. Squeaking swallows chase whirring dragonflies in a dance of life and death. A neon-blue ribbon of river runs through the centre. It’s simply an awesome place but yesterday night it was not the case as something happened, something that should not have happened but it did!
The night was as usual calm and still as the people snored under their blankets without realizing that the hell would be breaking loose late into the night and early morning. Loran Bazaar is a busy place during the day time and the shopkeepers sell their merchandise to make a living out of the profits made. The people descend from all over the mountains to the market place to buy the essentials as we all do in modernized places. But in the evenings it’s eerie as no one moves but tonight many would be because a bizarre incident was to take place.
It was almost dawn when the fire broke out in the market and the panic struck. The reasons of the fire are not known and are being investigated by SHP Loran Ved prakash but at that time the situation was panic ridden as one after another nine shops caught fire and within no time they were gutted. The villagers raised hue and cry as they did not know what to do. The Army soldiers rushed to the spot and began to douse the fire along with the locals and the Policemen in Police Station Loran.
The Fire and Emergency contingent also reached the spot but they were late much to the chagrin of the villagers. They were late by an hour, could be more also after they had been informed. By then the emergency value of their presence was over since the fire had been brought under control.
The locals were very angry by the response of the fire and emergency men and thus staged a protest against them obviously as a fall out of the incident that had occurred. Such was the anger that they refused the help being remembered by the department that has been made to tackle situations like this. The locals also said that it was because of the army and the police who controlled the fire otherwise the damage to the property and lives would have been far too much. They thanked the men of the two forces for yet again helping them in distress. The damage assessment is still going on.
For the locals the small market at the bus stand Loran has become a part of their life. They have fond memories attached to it. From a couple of shops the market has become an attractive place hemmed up in between massive mountains, greenery and an extravagant scenery. It is a place of memories and years lived by the locals and each one of them has a story to tell. To watch it burn was hard, they said unanimously after the fire had been controlled. Obviously it would be rebuilt but those who saw the incident do recall, flames rose into the morning as if they were challenging the heavens to stop their consumption of what was a market. But that could not have happened and only the intervention of humans saved the day! Indeed it was an unfortunate incident to happen in such a lovely place! The FIR has been lodged and the investigations are on to find out the exact reasons of the fire!
If Gods do exist, this place Loran is their hideaway. In spring it is full of hues and magnificence because nature has bestowed upon it all its grandeur, The human history of this place is all illustrious with some great legends. In the winters it is freezing cold. But one thing is a bit stupefying. It is basically winter when such incidents tend to happen but this one happened in pleasant weather! Any way it had to happen and it did!