A fire gutted four shops at Gudri market in Sonari in the small hours of Friday with traders alleging sabotage as goods and properties worth over Rs 5 lakh were damaged.
Police, however, claimed that a short-circuit had triggered the fire, which destroyed two readymade garments shops, a Chinese fast food outlet and a stall of earthen pots.
Ganadev Prasad, who owned one of the garments shops, expressed his surprise at the police’s claims.
“How can a short-circuit be the reason behind the fire when the shops do not have power connection and are run by generators, which are switched off at 10.30pm every day?” Prasad asked.
The trader alleged that someone had deliberately ignited the fire at one of the shops, which spread to the other three. “We suspect it to be a case of sabotage because the fire broke out around 2.30am,” Prasad, whose house is just behind his gutted shop, said.
Officer-in-charge of Sonari police station Sanjiv Kumar rubbished the traders’ allegations.
“How can anyone dare to set any of the shops on fire when their owners live behind the row?” he asked.