Dzuko trekkers remanded in police custody, fire contained

IMPHAL: The eight trekkers of Manipur Mountaineering and Trekking Association (MMTA), who were arrested by Nagaland police during a trekking tour organised by MMTA in connection with Manipur Sangai festival 2018, have been remanded in police custody for two days.
MMTA president Bijoy Kakchingtabam, meanwhile, told The People’s Chronicle that the association will hold an emergency executive meeting on Thursday to discuss further course of action since the 24-hour deadline for unconditional release of the trekkers set by the association did not evoke positive response.
Mention may be made here that on November 23, 15 trekkers of MMTA (11 men and 4 women) left Imphal for Dzuko valley as part of a trip to Dzuko valley. After reaching the valley on November 26, the group was trying to take photographs of the scenery when a wildfire suddenly occurred. After several attempts to put out the wildfire, the trekkers fled split into two groups. One group of eight trekkers (6 men and two women) were handed over to Nagaland police after they were apprehended by volunteers of Southern Angami Youth Organisation. However, instead of releasing them, they were detained at Khuzama Police Station.
According to Nagaland-based Morung Express, the major fire catastrophe was averted due to the brave and timely intervention of Southern Angami Youth Organisation (SAYO) volunteers. The Dzükou fire which started on November 26 morning was successfully contained on November 27. Confirming the news, SAYO president Zakieleto Tsükrü informed that around 60 volunteers were pressed into action for containing the fire starting from 7:00am till 4.30 pm. The volunteers had to trek pass difficult terrains to reach the burning areas of the valley.
Given the challenges of carrying water to the affected area, the volunteers were compelled to fight the fire at close distance with the help of sackcloths and using machetes (daos) to contain the fire. Meanwhile, SAYO officials informed that the persons responsible for starting the fire were trekkers who were camped at the South West area of Dzükou valley.
According to sources the fire reportedly spread from the campsite when the trekkers left a fire for cooking unattended while they were away to click pictures. SAYO officials informed that the persons involved were handed over to the concerned authorities as they have reportedly admitted to their offences.
The defaulters were reportedly trekkers from Manipur, who the SAYO alleged were “illegal encroachers/trekkers” led by guides under the banner of MMTA.
The SAYO asked the authorities to take appropriate action at the earliest and book the culprits as per the law, “failing which the SAYO will take its own course of action.” It also cautioned people against entering the valley without valid permits.

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