28 Oct 2003

Arson suspected in Hindu temple fire in Fiji during Diwali

6:53 pm on 28 October 2003

Police in Fiji are investigating rumours that a Hindu temple near Nausori was destroyed during the Diwali festival by youths high on marijuana.

The Naga Baba Kutty Temple - a significant Hindu landmark housing important religious relics - was burnt to the ground on Saturday night.

Police public relations officer, Mesake Koroi, says police believe the fire started with lighted candles and arson has not been ruled out.

"We believe that the fire started from the lighted tier inside the temple, but we're looking at all avenues of the case, we have not ruled out the possibility of arson, but it's difficult to find evidence at the moment to prove that, eh?"

Mesake Koroi says he believes it is unlikely the attack was racially motivated, because racial tension has not been a major problem in the area.

He says that while speculation in the community is rife, no one has come forward with solid evidence to help the police with their inquiries.