Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Maungdaw, Arakan State: A fire broke out in Taungbro-right (Daybonia) village of Maungdaw Township on March 22, at about 00:30 am, gutting a house, a local schoolteacher said.
The cause of the fire has yet been ascertained. When the fire broke out, all the villagers were asleep inside their houses, because the Nasaka (Burma's border security force) arrests villagers, who are found outside their homes after 10 pm.
 
Villagers believe that some Natala (model) villager set fire to his house because there are only 7 houses of the Rohingya community, while 10 other houses are for Natala villagers. The Natala villagers always try to find fault with the Rohingya villagers to create a problem. They steal cattle, fowls and even vegetables from the Rohingya villagers. They have settled in that area in the last two years, having come from Burma proper. The Natala villagers have stolen clothes from the fire victim’s house, which were thrown out of the house by family members, while the house was aflame, a businessman from the locality said.   
  
The fire rapidly engulfed the entire house. There were no fire engines to extinguish the fire.
 
After the house caught fire, villagers on hearing the noise and seeing smoke, rushed to the spot to put out the fire, but they were unable to do so as there was no water. The house was reduced to ashes.
 
There were no casualties. However, 100 Taung (one Taung = 13 kgs) of paddy was burnt and some fowls were killed in the fire, a relative of the victim said. 
 
The fire was controlled after the house was gutted. The adjacent houses were not affected by flying sparks from the house as the other houses are not situated close by.
 
Abdul Gufur, who lost his house in the fire, went into hiding for fear of arrest.  In the morning, a police officer Soe Naing of Taungbro-sub town police station went to the spot and arrested Abdul Gufur’s wife. She was handcuffed and taken to a nearby Rakhine village.
 
However, she was released on the same day, at about 6:00 pm, after paying Kyat 50,000 to police officer U Khin Zaw (OC). Abdul Gufur was able to pay only Kyat 21,000, while his wife was released. But, he has promised to pay the rest of the money on March 27. Police officers demanded extra Kyat 150,000 from Abdul Gufur to not file a case against him.
 
“We know that fire victims are supported by government authorities in other countries, but in Burma, fire victims are arrested and money is extorted from them,” said a student from the locality.
 
“This is an indirect action against the Rohingya community, to make the Rohingya people economically crippled so that later they are forced to flee to Bangladesh,” a local schoolteacher said.
 
The local police and Nasaka (Burma’s border security force) officers have been ordered to deplete the Rohingya population by the deputy Home Minister, a trader said. 
 
 The estimated loss from the fire was one million kyat, according to a local elder.