A massive fire that broke out at Old Balibat in front of the Purana Masjid of eastern Assam’s Jorhat on Wednesday night was brought under control by four fire tenders from Jorhat and one which had to be brought from Teok, about 20 kms away.
The upper storey, constructed of bamboo and tin of about 2000 square feet, in a building that housed the family of late Tufail Zilani, former chairman of Jorhat Municipal Board, was gutted.
A fire brigade source said the cause of the fire was yet to be ascertained but a few people in the neighborhood had said that it was due to celebratory bursting of firecrackers due to the Ram Mandir ‘bhoomi pujan’ at Ayodhya.
A source who lives in the locality, however, said it might have been due to a electric short circuit from a cable hanging close by as during Diwali in the past 20 years when there was heavy bursting of crackers no such fire had occurred.
“While people in the neighborhood are saying that the temporary bamboo construction was hit by a lit rocket cracker, this could be a ploy to foment enemity between communities. The family of Zilani is respected here, Tufail Zilani himself was a very good person and nobody would try to harm them,” he said.
He further said if the fire had spread a row of shops belonging to Hindus, right at the back of the building would have been gutted and even the Kachori gully, another row of about 30 shops on either side, would have been finished as well.
The upper floor had been given on rent to a person who ran a tea shop and made sweets and other eatables.
A worker of the shop said that two cylinders, one of which was empty had been thrown to the ground as soon as the fire had caught at about 8.45 pm but the one remaining cylinder had burst as a result of which the flames had leapt to sky.
However, fire brigade sources said that they had found no such cylinder and it could have been diesel in a generator.