One house gutted in wildfire

 One house gutted in wildfire

24 March 2010

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India —   A wildfire allegedly set by a combined force of Thoubal district police commandos and 21 AR during a counter insurgency operation conducted in the areas of Sarik Konjil and Kalika Lok hills has completely reduced a house of Sarik Konjil village to ashes, but three other houses were saved by villagers from being completely destroyed yesterday.

The house that was totally gutted belonged to Irengbam Tomba Meitei (52) of Sarik Konjil village.

The Sarik Konjil Primary School located just next to the house escaped untouched by the wildfire.

Furniture and properties of the house approximately valued at about Rs 80,000 had been completely charred.

But three other houses belonging to Oinam Gopal (76) of Sarik Konjil, Saikhom Samo (42) of Sarik Konjil Kha Lok Leikai and Ningthoujam Ibopishak of Sarik Konjil Munsoi Leikai could be saved by the villagers when the wildfire started burning them.

One Salam Bijoy of Sarik Konjil Kodom Leikai sustained injuries when he fell down from a ladder while trying to save a house from the wildfire, and he was hospitalised.

On the other hand, the wildfire spread to Kalika Lok hills toward the Kashipung Maring village and Kalika Lok village.

The PVC pipe that carries water from Kalika Lok to Kashipung villager had also been destroyed by the fire.

Chief of Kalika Lok village, K Modar Maring told this correspondent that a combined force of police commandos and AR troops came to the area about 6.30 am yesterday and surrounded Kalika Lok hills and Sarik Konjil hills and set the wildfire.

The chief quoted some villagers as saying that the security personnel told them that they found signs of UGs’ presence in the area, hence the set on the wildfire to the hill areas.

At some places the villagers were stopped by the security personnel from entering the burning areas to put out the wildfire, the chief said.

On receiving reports, fire tenders from Kakching and Sugnu Fire Sub Stations rushed to the area in the afternoon and fought the fire.

The police commandos and the AR personnel stayed there till 3 pm as if waiting for any UG cadre rushing out of the areas under flames, then they retreated from there.

Residents of the nearby villages tried to extinguish the wildfire for hours and finally succeeded in putting out the wildfire at about 5.30 in the evening.

The villagers condemned what they described as a thoughtless action of the police commandos and AR of setting wildfire to the hills.

They complained that since almost all bamboo groves had been completely destroyed by the wildfire, the Maring villagers would have to face a lot of difficulties in earning their livelihood as basket-making with bamboo is their main occupation.

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