Special Correspondent

Video footage of lights being switched on after the fire recorded

The choir books were said to have been scattered in various places

Speculation that burning candles caused

fire dismissed

BANGALORE: Can lights be switched on in a building after an electric short circuit has caused a major fire there? The fact that lights and fans could be switched on at St. Anthony’s Church at Yadavanahalli under Attibele police station limits on Monday after it was gutted is making the church authorities and rights activist doubt the police claim that the fire was caused by short circuit.

The police, however, continue to maintain that the fire in the church was caused by a short circuit.

Chinnappa, who lives close to the church, and was one of the first to reach the spot, said he had switched off the circuit breaker because sparks were flying as they were trying to douse the raging fire with water. “Would the fuse and the circuit breaker have been intact if there was a short circuit?” he asked. Uvraj M. of Komu Sauharda Vedike and Manoranjini of Alternative Law Forum, who visited the spot on Monday, recorded video footage of lights being switched on after the fire.

‘Physically removed’

Father Santosh, the priest of the church, said the choir books, which are stacked together, were scattered in various places, which gives rise to the doubt that they could have been used to set the church ablaze. Unusually, the synthetic cover of the church organ was found in the sanctum sanctorum and a silk material on the amplifier. The priest said this meant that someone physically removed them from their original places.

He dismissed the speculation that burning candles could have caused the fire. “The candles are never left burning overnight because the whole area is carpeted,” he said.

The Attibele police maintained that “the exact reason will be known only after a detailed investigation.” The sources there added that reports were expected from the Departments of Fire and Emergency Services and BESCOM. Electrical Inspector P.N. Appachchu has submitted his report, and, the Forensic Science Laboratory report was expected, sources added.

An officer in the Department of Fire and Emergency Services claimed that church authorities “had not installed proper safety measures”. The church had no fire alarm or fire extinguishers, and the incident could have been averted if fire safety measures were in place, he said.

Komu Sauharda Vedike and other organisations held a protest in front of Town Hall to protest against the continuing attacks on churches in Karnataka.

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