Slum dwellers across the city have every reason to believe authorities want them to disappear, and some think fires are used against them

“We lost everything … Our fans, TV, coolers. Whatever money we had saved, pots, pans, utensils,” says Ruxana, a 30-year-old mother of three who lives in a slum in Mansarovar Park, eastern New Delhi, that was ravaged by fire earlier this summer.

All but a handful of the roughly 300 homes in the area – which lies in the shadows of an overground segment of Delhi’s metro – were destroyed. A few weeks later, a sense of total devastation prevails. Men and women carry buckets of water from nearby tankers, while others surround NGO workers trying to help residents claim compensation from the government. Children wander around unsupervised and unclothed, charred soil smudged across their faces.

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