CBI arrests 4 in connection with abduction and killing of 2 Manipur students
The case is one of the 27 cases related to the ongoing ethnic clashes in Manipur that have been handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation
In a major breakthrough, four suspects were arrested on Sunday by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) led security forces team in connection with the killing of two students-- a boy and a girl-- in Manipur, whose photographs, which surfaced last week, had sparked off a fresh round of protests in the violence-hit state.
Confirming this, Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh while addressing a hurriedly called press conference at his official residence in Imphal on Sunday evening said, “The special team of CBI has taken the arrested persons by a special flight outside the state today.”
The arrested persons were identified as Paominlun Haokip, S Malsawn Haokip, Lhingneichong Baite and Tinneikhol, he said. The four-- two men and two women-- were arrested from Henglep area in Manipur’s Churachandpur district.
Later, on his official X handle, Biren Singh wrote, “I’m pleased to share that some of the main culprits responsible for the abduction and murder of Phijam Hemanjit and Hijam Linthoingambi have been arrested from Churachandpur today.”
“As the saying goes, one may abscond after committing the crime, but they cannot escape the long hands of the law. We are committed to ensuring maximum punishment, including capital punishment, for the heinous crime they have committed,” he added.
According to officials, who said on condition of anonymity, the arrested persons were hurriedly brought to Imphal amidst tight security in view of protests, and were flown to Guwahati. Unconfirmed reports said two more persons have been detained in connection with the case.
Manipur had been witnessing fresh protests that broke out in the state Capital after the photographs of two students- Luwangbi Linthoingambi Hijam (17) of Tera and Phijam Hemanjit (20) of Takyel -who had gone missing since July 6, surfaced on the social media on September 25 after the mobile internet service was restored on September 23 afternoon.
The photographs on social media were apparently taken before and after they were killed. The 17-year-old girl, Luwangbi Linthoingambi Hijam and the 20-year-old man Phijam Hemanjit --both residents of Imphal – were last seen together on July 6.
The Manipur Police said an initial probe had revealed that the missing duo might have got trapped in an area dominated by the Kuki community while fleeing, after which they were allegedly abducted and murdered. Their bodies are yet to be found. The case is one of the 27 related to the ongoing ethnic clashes that have been handed over to the CBI. Last week a team of the central agency had arrived in Imphal to probe it.
The incident sent shockwaves through Manipur’s valley districts, resulting in three days of protests in and around the state Capital, resulting in more than 100 people-- mostly both boy and girl students-- being injured.
To control the situation, the state authorities reimposed total curfew in and around Imphal for two days before it started to resume usual curfew relaxation hours from Friday.
On September 28, a huge mob had even tried to storm at chief minister Biren Singh’s private residence at Luwangsangbam locality under Heingang assembly constituency. However, security forces managed to stop the mob away from the house, according to police.
However, the people, mostly the students’ community and women folk have continued to stage various forms of protests till date.
On Sunday, many women in traditional mourning attire staged sit-in demonstrations in and around the state Capital demanding justice for the two young students.
Since the ethnic clashes between Meitei and tribal Kuki communities first erupted on May 3, more than 180 people have been killed and over 50,000 have fled their homes in Manipur.
More than half the state’s population of 3.2 million belongs to the Meitei community, which is predominant in Imphal Valley while the Kuki community, who make up about 43%, live mostly in the hills.