CHANDIGARH: As many as 21 women had died of kerosene-operated stove burn injuries in the past more than three years, revealed the Chandigarh Police in reply to an RTI query filed by Ravinder Singh Dhull, the director of the Centre for Socio-Legal Research and Aid (CSLRA). This raises a serious question mark on the safety of women operating such stoves in the absence of LPG connections.

The detailed reply further revealed that incidents of stove burn cases increased with each passing year, and all deaths took place in the poor colonies and suburban areas of Chandigarh. Further, in all the cases, the victims received around 100 per cent burn injuries, and most of them succumbed to those injuries during treatment. Interestingly, in all the deaths, police have followed inquest proceedings under Section 174 of the CrPC, and concluded in their probe reports that there was no foul play behind them, as some of the victims had recorded their statements before area magistrates before breathing their last.

Dhull told ToI: “The reply to the information sought for kerosene-operated stoves has proved that cooking through them is the worst form of cooking, as it is not only harmful for women’s health, but also very risky. We cannot rule out the possibility of foul play behind all these 21 deaths, but we should remember that kerosene stoves were the reasons for these deaths. The authorities should have a policy to discourage the use of kerosene stoves.”

The 21 deaths were reported in the jurisdictions of PS Manimajra, Industrial Area, Sector 31, Sector 39, and PS-34, which cover rehabilitation colonies, villages, and the suburban areas of Chandigarh. A majority of the victims were married women, and only a few were unmarried. Police sources revealed: “Preliminary investigation in some deaths also established that their families had LPG connections, but their gas cylinders were empty, while the new ones had not arrived.”

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