Unidentified gunmen on Monday morning attacked a helipad in Manipur’s Ukhrul town minutes after a chopper with chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh, four ministers and two local MLAs took off. A Manipur Rifles constable was injured in the firing.
Reports said chopper targeting the chief minister and his high-profile team came under fire, but officials denied the ambush theory.
The chopper carrying Singh, deputy chief minister Gaikhangam and the others had landed at the fortified Bakshi helipad in Ukhrul about 9:30 am. Their schedule included inaugurating a 100-bed district hospital, two upgraded power sub-stations, a bank and block development officer’s building.
Ukhrul is 84km from state capital Imphal.
The chief minister’s team could not move out of the helipad as protesters had blocked the road to the project inauguration site about 1km away. An apex body of local Tangkhul tribe had opposed the official programme as they felt Singh was “anti-Naga”.
After assessing the situation for an hour, Singh and his team flew back to Imphal about 10:30am. A volley of shots was fired at the helipad soon after, making the security personnel take cover.
William Tarao, a constable, was injured in the firing that lasted 10 minutes. Protesters also set fire to two police vehicles outside the helipad.
“The situation in Ukhrul is under control after deployment of additional forces,” Gaikhangam said, condemning the firing incident.
“It (firing) was not against the ministerial team but an attack on the people of Manipur and the country. The government at the centre should take necessary steps,” he added.
Earlier in the day, a member of the 4th Indian Reserve Battalion was injured when armed miscreants exploded a bomb at the newly built hospital complex the chief minister was to have inaugurated.