NewsIndiaTimes – that’s all you need to know News India Times January 26, 2018 10 Community By Ruchi Vaishnav everal Indian students were with- out a home on the freezing morning of Jan. 5, the day after the first snow storm of the year, when fire engulfed their apart- ment at 238-240 Maple Avenue in Kearny, New Jersey. Indian-American organizations and the Indian government stepped in to help these 11 Indian students in their hour of need. According to , 23 more people and 10 other families were also affected by the fire that morning and Desi Talk had a chance to speak with a few of those indi- viduals who lost everything in the fire that day. Swapnil Deshmukh, a graduate student at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), who came to the U.S. from Maharashtra in August 2015 to pursue his master’s degree in information security, said “at around 6:30 - 7 a.m. when every- one was sleeping, the fire alarm went off, so I went downstairs to check and saw fire coming out of the heating unit in the base- ment. So I called 911 and went upstairs to tell everyone to get out of the building.” Deshmukh said he just left as is in the clothes he was wearing, “I lost everything including my passport and visa docu- ments. I came from India with three bags in my hand and now I have nothing, I have to start from scratch now.” Ashish Kulkarni, also an NJIT graduate student from Pune, who came to the U.S. about two years ago, remembered to take his passport and student ID with him when he fled the building. “I was trying to stay calm,” said Kulkarni, who thought that the fire would only stay contained to the basement and not reach their apartment on the third floor. But strong winds carried the fire up, spreading to the second and third floors. “The people living on the second floor were able to collect most of their belong- ings but we, being on the third floor, just ran out and were able to grab only a couple things in hand,” said Kulkarni recalling how scary and cold it was that day. Nayan Sadafer, also from Pune, said he was getting ready for work that day when he heard the fire alarm go off at around 7 a.m. “I was getting ready for work and I heard the fire alarm so I went into my room and saw smoke and thought that my room was on fire, but I later realized that it was actu- ally in the basement and we were being told to leave the building as someone called 911,” said Sadafer. He grabbed all of his documents before running out. He told Desi Talk the building took about two to three hours to burn down, after which he went to work. He said the last two weeks hae been the "worst two weeks of my life." He works in the back room at For All Children and Adult Dentistry, nearby. His friend who works with him is in India on vacation. reported how the dark smoke from the fire could be seen frommiles, as firefighters worked in below-freezing tem- peratures, to fight the blaze. Water pressure was one of the biggest challenges in those temperatures. “Local residents as well as businesses also provided food to anyone who needed a meal, the Library acted as a warming center, and donation drop-off locations were set up around town,” report- ed. Deshmukh, Kulkarni and Sadafer all said the Indian Consulate along with the Indian government has been working with them in recovering the belongings they lost in the fire that Friday, especially any important documents. The American Red Cross, the Mayor of Kearny, Alberto G. Santos, as well as other Indian organiza- tions are also helping out by providing them with food, shelter and clothing, they added. Currently, several people are living with other friends in the area Sadafer said, because rooms are available because peo- ple are away on vacation to India. But some have now found another apartment nearby. Deshmukh said that Srujal Parikh, the president-elect of Federation of Indian Associations (FIA), has been calling him about four to five times a day just to check up on them and make sure that whatever else is needed is given to them. “They called the Consulate in NewYork informing them of their situation and in return they got invited to the Consulate. When Consul General Sandeep Chakravorty heard about their situation he called and explained the situation to me asking if FIA could help out and I gave in,” said Parikh. According to Parikh, the Indian Consulate found out about the situation after one of the students tweeted to the Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj asking for help. Swaraj has a reputa- tion for responding promptly to Indian res- idents abroad who encounter problems. “We also provided them with food, clothing, cooking utensils, and $50 gift cards to grocery stores and have even made accommodations for nine beds, since two of the students have moved out to live with other people,” Parikh told Desi Talk. Parikh also said that while the students are ready to get back on their feet and move on with their lives, they need legal help to get compensated by the landlord, for belongings lost in the fire, such as lap- tops and other expensive items. “For the first two nights following the fire, they weren’t able to sleep but when I met them a couple days back they told me ‘Srujal bhai, we are very thankful to you and the members of your organization. You gave us a new direction in life, otherwise we had lost hope'," Parikh said. The stu- dents also expressed a wish to work with FIA in the future. S Eleven Indian students have been left destitute by a blaze that demolished their apartment building in Kearny, N.J. Devastating Fire Firefighters battling the blaze in the freezing cold temperatures. Photos :Courtesy- Swapnil Deshmukh Victims of the Kearny Fire with K. Devadasan Nair, Consul of Community Affairs at the Indian Consulate in New York. By Ruchi Vaishnav A happy new year celebration turned deadly Jan. 1, when an Indian- American woman became the first homicide victim in NewYork City, after what was reportedly a night of some hard partying to ring in 2018. Stacy Loknath, 26, formerly known as Stacy Singh, was found face down, uncon- scious and unresponsive with multiple stab wounds to her torso, in the early after- noon inside her home on 103rd Avenue near 113th Street in Richmond Hill, Queens, according to police. Just a few hours before that, her husband Vishwanand Loknath, 42, referred to by friends and acquaintances, as Vinny, was found hanging from a tree in Forest Park, a mile and a half from their home, New York Daily News reported. Two children are now left orphaned. But what is heartening is how the community is rallying to help the children and raise funds for their upkeep. Messages and donations poured in from hundreds of people following the tragedy and thou- sands have been raised. Meanwhile, social service organizations are demanding more attention be paid to domestic violence within the community. Vinny Loknath's death is being linked by police to Stacy Loknath's murder, accord- ing to news reports and account given friends and family recounting what hap- pened that fateful NewYear's Eve night. The couple brought in the NewYear by partying hard with family members and doing cocaine at a Queens restaurant, police said. Friends of the couple told police the two had been arguing with each other all night. Stabroek News, a media outlet from Guyana, identified Stacy Loknath as being of Guyanese descent. Family members told NewYork Daily News that the fighting became so loud that at one point, the two were thrown out of the club where they were celebrating. Romain Shaw, Singh’s brother-in-law, told the NewYork Daily News that Loknath was abusive. “He was very abusive to her, but she stayed with him no matter what because they had two kids together. She was hoping for him to change, but he never did,” said Shaw. Shaw added that Loknath had been drinking heavily and using cocaine at the NewYear’s Eve party they attended. Indian-American Woman Killed In New York Stacy Loknath CourtesyFacebook