Locals gather clues behind ‘suspicious’ bushfires at Pilong
R LESTER MAKANG
UKHRUL, 12th Apr: Aggrieved residents of Pilong Market Settlement (PMS) in Skipe village have sought swift actions from the state authorities concerned against the perpetrators of multiple crimes after substantial evidences opened up clues behind the 'suspicious' bushfires that destroyed five houses and properties at the extreme border village in Kamjong district recently.
A massive blaze allegedly originated from wildfire, ripped through the new settlement area and gutted five dwelling houses and properties worth several lakhs of Rupees on April 3. The villagers suspected that this was an arson attack as lighting of the bushfire was deliberately done to devastate the habitation.
As the villagers continued to reel under tension and lack of safety, a joint team of Tangkhul Katamnao Saklong (TKS), Zingsho Katamnao Long (ZKL) and Zingtun Tangkhul Katamnao Long (ZTKL) visited the affected area along with media persons on Saturday.
Talking to media persons at the fire-ravaged site, PMS chairman Yarmi Jajo and secretary SD Somi disclosed that the fire was an arson attack which was the third in a series of deliberate crimes including burglary committed by suspected miscreants from certain neighbouring Kuki village from Myanmar side.
"We request the authorities concerned to take swift action and book the perpetrators of the multiple crimes committed against the innocent inhabitants of Pilong locality," they said, adding that the villagers have gathered substantial evidence to suspect involvement of our neighbours from Myanmar side.
"We consider all villages in the region as good neighbours and have no enmity but if anyone has betrayed our trust and committed offenses, let the law takes its own course of actions," he said.
"Earlier, on the intervening night of March 18 and 19, when our villagers had gone to attend a public meeting related to Covid-19 situation in Skipe village, unknown persons entered our village, broke doors and got away with various household belongings worth over Rs 2 lakhs," Jajo said.
He continued that on learning of the burglary in their village, some of the villagers immediately rushed to the village to ascertain the reality. "As soon as our villagers entered our locality, they saw some unknown people including women fleeing. After enquiring, we now have come to know that those people who had escaped, are from a neighbouring Jeti Kuki village in Myanmar border," the village leader said.
He further informed that on the following day again, some unknown persons set fire on jhum fields which were under preparation belonging to Pilong residents.
Jajo said that reading all these incidences and suspicious presence of Jeti people in our locality, the villagers could not rule out involvement of Myanmar's Jeti Kuki villagers in the series of crimes namely, burglary and burning of fields and dwelling houses.
It is learnt that Pilong Market Settlement area on the Indian side and Jeti and a few other Kuki villages on the Myanmar side are only a few kilometres apart, with only forest areas separating the two sides. The border stretch is covered by International Border Pillars No. 96 and 97.
Interestingly, the cross-border crimes were allegedly committed by breaking through the two border gates which were sealed by the Skipe villagers recently restricting entry and exit from two sides in the wake of the outbreak of Coronavirus to prevent its spread.
According to the villagers, the PMS committee had recently lodged an FIR against the theft/burglary case at Kamjong police station.
Pilong Market Settlement in Skipe village is a new habitation area currently inhabited by around 20/30 houses, located about some 40 km from Kamjong district headquarters. It was recognised by Kamjong district administration in 2019.