'To evict tenant, shop set ablaze'

'To evict tenant, shop set ablaze'

Garments worth around Rs 40 lakh went up in flames at the store located at Shivajinagar.

The owner of a commercial complex allegedly set fire to his tenant’s garment shop in an attempt to evict the tenant from the building in Shivajinagar on February 11.

The tenant, Syed Eliyaz (60), whose shop and garments worth around Rs 40 lakh went up in flames, filed a complaint at the Commercial Street police station soon after.

On February 11, around 9.30 pm, Eliyaz had shut shop and left for home. He received a call around 11 pm stating his shop was ablaze. He rushed to the spot and saw two fire tenders dousing the flames. Eliyaz then analysed the CCTV footage from the shop nearby that showed an unknown man wearing a helmet, carrying a bottle, setting the store on fire.

The police, after analysing CCTV footage, booked an unidentified miscreant along with the owner, Abdul Khuddus. They are investigating further.

Eliyaz told DH that he ran the Kubras cloth store at the complex for over 16 years. His shop was on the ground floor of the Diamond Plaza that had a total of 14 shops. Eliyaz was paying a rent of Rs 15,000 per month until three years ago, when the owner filed a civil case against him for eviction.

“Khuddus has been forcing me to vacate the shop despite me telling him that I am ready to pay the rent he wanted. I also offered to buy the shop for the standard rate. But, Khuddus insisted that I vacate, which I could not, as I am running the shop for some years now and my family is wholly dependent on it,” said Eliyaz.

“For three years, I was paying the rent to the court and Khuddus kept on harassing me to vacate even after the court ruled in my favour,” Eliyaz added.

The firemen collected samples from the shop to ascertain what triggered the fire and informed the police that the accused did not care for the establishments or houses nearby.

The police have booked Khuddus as a suspect and his associate under IPC section 436 - mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house.

However, they also suspect the mishap could be the handiwork of the tenant himself, as he was sure that he would be evicted soon.

“We have taken up a case based on the complainant’s statement. The accused are yet to be arrested, and it’s too early to comment who could have committed the crime,” said a senior police officer.