ATTOCK-Thousands of textbooks worth millions of rupees reduced to ashes in mysterious fire which broke out in a warehouse established for storage of books in Hazro tehsil in Attock district early on Wednesday.

The residents living adjacent to Government Boys High School No. 1 Hazro alerted police and Rescue 1122 after they saw dense smoke rising from the school around 8 am on Wednesday.

However, the fire engulfed the entire stock of textbooks of Punjab Education Department before the rescue team undertook the job. The District Emergency Officer Dr Mohammad Ishfaq Mian told newsmen that the rescue 1122 received emergency call around 8 O’ Clock and subsequently fire brigade and Rescue 1122 personnel doused the fire, but all the books in the warehouse reduced to ashes. Sources in education department said that the provincial education department had dispatched around 0.1 million textbooks of Punjab Textbook Board from class 1 to 10 to the education officer Hazro tehsil in Attock. In this connection cluster centre was Government High School No. 1 Hazro city where the books were stored for onward distribution to students studying in more than 100 primary, middle, high and higher secondary boys and girls schools of the tehsil before the commencement of new academic year.

As the lists for distribution of the textbooks was being prepared for its distribution to schools as per students’ strength, as many as 25,000 textbooks of various classes and various subjects went ‘missing’ under mysterious circumstances.

Inside sources claimed that some officials of the education department allegedly sold the said quantity of books in market and to save themselves and conceal their crime they set the stock on fire. Sources further said that as an inquiry by the provincial education authorities was underway to ascertain the facts, some unknown persons by breaking locks of storerooms of the school where books were stored set these books on fire which reduced 90 percent stock of textbooks to ashes. Social and public circles have raised their eye brows that despite presence of CCTV cameras and presence of a watchman how some unknown persons broke the locks and set the textbooks on fire.

When contacted District Education officer Secondary, Raja Amjad Iqbal confirmed that 25,000 textbooks from class-1 to 10th were missing as per inventory and in this connection an inquiry team from provincial education department was conducting a probe to ascertain the facts.

Responding to another question about gutting of textbooks on Wednesday morning, he said the watchman was present on duty and he had not seen anybody breaking locks and setting books on fire. He said a team of district administration comprising officials of education department and district monitoring team was probing the fire incident and would fix the responsibility.