Miscreants place phosphorus wrapped in charred paper

In purported acts of mischief , a slew of aborted bids to set hutments on fire were made by unknown miscreants in M.G.R. Nagar in Nagore. The latest incident on Monday brought agitated residents to the streets forcing police to intervene promising quick action.

The past fortnight has witnessed several instances of smoke emitting from thatched roofs, and alert residents putting out the nascent fire.

However, the incidents were found to be not mere accidents but possible acts of sabotage as phosphorus was found wrapped in charred paper in the sites of aborted fire. The phosphorous had gone aflame under the heat of the sun.

When contacted, Sibi Chakaravarthy, Assistant Superintendent of Police, who was at the site of the latest fire, said that the police were looking for a common thread and possible motive.

Of the houses targeted, one belonged to a member of a minority community and the rest to the majority community.

The police had already deployed two pickets round-the-clock in the area to monitor and track suspects. According to Mr. Sibi Chakaravarthy, geographical profiling had been done, and M.G.R. Nagar, the affected area, is on the periphery with approach roads that are largely deserted. The police have also rounded up a few locals for inquiry.

“The fires were generally found to have been started under the scotching midday sun, when the phosphorous heats up. It is believed that the miscreants might have surreptitiously placed the balls on the thatches prior to the deployment of pickets, and the hutments were slowly catching fire one by one ,” the ASP told The Hindu .

Similar incidents of frequent fires were reported in 2002, and the case was cracked to reveal sabotage to cause ill will to the ruling dispensation, said a source.