Fire breaks out in Delhi church, management alleges arson bid

New Delhi: A minor fire broke out at a church Christmas nativity scene yesterday due to a short circuit in decorative lights, police said. Church leadership, however, said it was an attempted arson attack.
The fire was noticed around 8am after morning prayers inside the church in Rohini area, northwest of Delhi.
Police suspect the fire was caused by a spark in the lights used to decorate the painting, which church management was due to remove within days.
“After the prayers, a church worker noticed the burnt statues and other decorative items in the nativity scene set up near the church boundary wall,” a member of the church leadership said.
Savari Muthu Sankar, spokesperson for the Delhi Archdiocese, claimed it was an arson attempt.
“It appears that someone poured chemical on the nativity scene from outside the church and set it on fire. All the statues were burned. ‘church,” Shankar said.
Authorities immediately informed the police but they said it was due to a short circuit without proper investigation, he said.
“It rained all night and the crib was wet. How could a short circuit have caused the fire,” said John Dayal, former president of the All India Catholic Union.
Church authorities did not notify firefighters as it was not a major fire, police said.
On December 1, St. Sebastian’s Catholic Church in Dilshad Garden in East Delhi was destroyed in an attack by unidentified assailants. A day after the incident, at least 1,000 people demonstrated outside Delhi police headquarters demanding an investigation.
The police then formed a special investigation team to investigate the case.