Wakka village, after the devastrating fire

At least 52 houses were reduced to ashes rendering more than 100 families homeless at Wakka village in Longding district of Arunachal Pradesh.

The fire broke out at around 11 am on Thursday and lasted for around 5 hours before being doused. Reports said that a 70-year-old woman, identified as Bangman Gangsa, was charred to death while value of properties lost and damaged are yet to be assessed. Wakka ZPM Matpho Kolong told Arunachal Times that some children were reported missing with no confirmation of their whereabouts.

A church, store-houses/granaries, fair price shop, 3 Angawanwadi centres, traditional boys’ dormitory and a number of vehicles were also destroyed while many domestic animals, including Mithuns, were killed in the fire.

“Nothing could be saved as most of the male members of the village were busy in clearing roadside jungle when the fire broke out”, Arunachal Times quoted general secretary of Longding District Students’ Union.

It was alleged that 16 Assam Rifles had forced all male members of the village to cut roadside jungles in the wake of recent militant related activities, especially due to the recent ambush in which two of their jawans were killed at Nyinu village under Wakka.

“We could have managed to save many dwelling houses and the life, if we were not engaged in the work,” said Gangsa, a victim of the incident.

The cause of the fire is not yet known but it was suspected that the fire might have started from a kitchen.

The Arunachal Times reported that parliamentary secretary Thangwang Wangham visited the village on Friday and took stock of the situation. Longding deputy commissioner Himanshu Gupta also accompanied the parliamentary secretary and assured to put up a mobile administrative camp for preparation and issue of important certificates that have been lost in the mishap.

Local MLA and education minister Honchun Ngandam has also rushed relief materials and is monitoring all relief works while Kanubari MLA Gabriel D Wangsu has dispatched truck-loads of relief materials comprising rice, clothes and utensils.

The village, under Wakka circle – the last administrative headquarters bordering Myanmar – has a total 314 households with 2026 inhabitants.

EDITOR’S NOTE: On December 26, Arunachal Pradesh Women’s Welfare Society (APWWS) is organizing a donation camp at Mahila Imdad Bhavan, Naharlagun from 8 AM. Clothes, food, utensils, cash…whatever… Feel free to donate.

As senior journalist Tongam Rina writes, “The devastation is such that the village looks like a patch of land cleared for Jhum cultivation…”

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