Mumbai: Father blames himself for woman's fiery death

Minaj Shah had locked up 26-year-old Amreen in the house and stepped out to buy keema for her when the fire broke out, killing her; cause of the fire is unknown

The father of Amreen Minaj Shah Alam Qureshi (26), who died in the fire at Nagpada on Thursday, is going to be haunted forever with his decision to lock her up in the house. He had locked her and stepped out to get keema for her when the fire broke out.

The burnt front door of Qureshi’s house
The burnt front door of Qureshi’s house

Amreen was trapped inside their apartment on the second floor of Aksa Manzil in Chowkie Mohalla, when the fire started at 5.05 pm. Some residents managed to break open the door later, but by then she had sustained 100 per cent burn injuries. She was declared dead on arrival at J J Hospital. The cause of fire is yet to be ascertained.

Abdullah Dawood Qureshi, a resident of the adjacent building, tried to rescue Amreen but couldn’t, and had to be admitted to J J hospital due to smoke inhalation
Abdullah Dawood Qureshi, a resident of the adjacent building, tried to rescue Amreen but couldn’t, and had to be admitted to J J hospital due to smoke inhalation

In the Accidental Death Report, J J Marg police has mentioned that Amreen was mentally and physically challenged. But neighbours say that she only had a limp in her right leg and was a little childish, but not mentally challenged. “She was only immature, a little childish, but certainly not mentally challenged.

A resident of the building says Amreen was a little immature, but not mentally challenged as the police have said
A resident of the building says Amreen was a little immature, but not mentally challenged as the police have said

She did the shopping, bought vegetables, cooked and took care of her father. How could she be mentally challenged?” asked a neighbour, Zarar Shaikh. When asked why Minaj locked her up, he said this wasn’t the first time he had done that.

“On several occasions he would lock her up. We never spoke much, so I don’t know about their family issues. They seemed alright,” said Shaikh. Abdullah Dawood Qureshi (37), the first to reach the second floor, said, “I couldn’t break the lock and the flames were increasing rapidly. There was too much smoke and eventually I had to fall back.”

Another tragedy for father
Family members and friends of the Qureshis were distraught. Jamil Shaikh (68), Minaj’s friend, who was with him, said, “He was barely 10 minutes away when people started screaming about the fire. We rushed to see his apartment on fire.”

“He had lost his wife four years ago to a heart ailment, and his son passed away two months after that due to a stomach ailment. Amreen was all he had and this happened. He is holding himself responsible for her death and is in shock,” said Mohammad Wasim, Minaj’s nephew.

No cause found yet
Santosh Sawant, assistant divisional officer from Byculla fire station, and the investigating officer of the blaze, said, “Had it been a cylinder blast, the kitchen platform and stove would have been damaged, but that’s not the case.

It can be gas leakage, or short circuit, or both. We will talk to people, take accounts of the firemen, filter possibilities, and then reach the most probable conclusion. It will take a little time.” Anil Madvi, senior police inspector, J J Marg police station, said that prima facie it is gas leakage, but they are waiting for the report from the fire department.

“There was nothing suspicious about the incident. We have taken statements of the eyewitnesses. We have recorded Amreen’s death as accidental death,” says Madvi.

What happened
>> A fire broke out on the second floor of Aksa Manzil in Chowki Mohalla on Thursday
>> Amreen Minaj Shah Alam Qureshi (26) was trapped in her house, as her father had locked her in
>> The fire brigade allegedly reached the spot 45 minutes after the call
>> Neighbours tried to break open the door, but couldn’t due to the fire
>> Some did break it down, but she had sustained 100% burns by then
>> Another woman, Sayeda Hussain, who stays on the third floor, was seriously injured 
>> Some of the residents took out the LPG cylinder from the house when they managed to break in

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