Nearly 20 days after eight kiosks in a market were gutted in a “mysterious” incident, tension continues to run high between two communities in Tissa in Chamba district, with shopkeepers engaged in a war of words.
In the fire, eight kiosks belonging to Muslim traders were gutted, and the blaze was controlled before it could engulf the other shops. While other shopkeepers claim short circuits caused the fire, the affected traders claim that their kiosks did not have electricity connections.
Sources told HT that office-bearers of the Beopar Mandal had written to the local civil authorities, alleging that the kiosks came up illegally, with affected traders denying the charge. Since the kiosks were constructed on the road leading to the Himachal Road Transport Corporation depot, local shopkeepers also sought intervention of the authorities to remove the kiosks, which, they alleged, were leading to traffic congestion in the area.
The local shopkeepers have also accused the local police officers of “siding with: the kiosk owners.
“The matter is being investigated, but it is wrong to raise questions on the role of the local station house officer. There is no tension in the area,” Chamba superintendent of police DK Chaudhary told HT. Sources said police headquarters have also sought a detailed report on the incident that sparked the tension.
Chamba deputy commissioner Kadam S Vasant said police were inquiring into the incident. “The kiosks were erected on land in the possession of the Himachal Road Transport Corporation and public works department. Both departments have objected to the reconstruction of the kiosks,” he added.