Bokajan: A major fire erupted in a parking lot here, engulfing a series of fuel tankers along the NH-39 close to the Assam-Nagaland border on Tuesday. The incident created panic among the residents of the area as over 100 fuel tankers bound for the State of Manipur are parked on this stretch every day.
Two fuel tankers were burnt to ashes while three other tankers parked in the vicinity were partially burnt. Fire fighters rushed to the spot and battled to douse off the flames.
Preliminary investigation conducted by the local police and fire service department hints a possible fuel theft racket active in pilfering fuel from the tankers. Police recovered a pump motor and an electric extension board from the burn site. Residents claim that a highly organized racket is involved in siphoning fuel from tankers on a regular basis and causing such fire incidents.
Fuel tankers bound for Manipur are kept in the parking lots here and are later escorted by CRPF personnel to the State owing to security reasons. Taking advantage of this system, many unscrupulous elements siphon fuel from the tankers and then mix a range of cheap neutralized kerosene/solvent to cover pilferage.
This is not the first case of fire engulfing oil tankers here; at least a dozen such incidents have taken place over the years. There are also instances in the past when the police had raided these joints and recovered several hundred litres of pilfered fuel stored in drums and containers. However, this illegal practice continues without any check for reason best known to the administration and the police.