Imphal: At least three houses at New Lambulane 3rd Street in the New Checkon area, where central paramilitary were present on duty, were burnt on Sunday afternoon.
Two out the three houses were completely gutted in the fire. The cause of the fire was not ascertained.
Teams of Manipur Fire Services rushed to the site and doused the fire before it spread to other neighbouring houses in the area.
Following the May 3 crisis in Churachandpur, the entrance to the Kuki inhabited New Checkon area has been sealed off to create a security buffer zone.
A large number of central paramilitary forces were also deployed to guard the sensitive spots in the New Checkon area including both ends of New Lambulane 3rd Street. Since then, Meitei residents of New Checkon have been barred from entering the buffer zone for security purposes.
The arson inside the sealed area has irritated the locals and led them to cast suspicion over the central forces and question the effectiveness of the security presence in the area.
The houses burnt were situated in close proximity to Meitei houses.
Locals of the area questioned how such incidents kept recurring in an area heavily guarded by central security forces. They expressed suspicion that Kuki residents still inside the New Lambulane area might have started the fire.
“Central forces have been deployed in the area since the outbreak of the violence. They have been ineffective in safeguarding the lives and properties of people in the area,” a local said.
“It is impossible for an outsider to enter the area due to security presence. The fire could have been started only from the inside,” secretary of New Chekon Bazar Women’s Society Nongpok Ingkhol said.
She alleged that Kuki residents inside New Lambulane intentionally burnt down the houses to blame the Meitei.
State police fired few rounds of tear gas shells to disperse the crowd at the site.