Soldier’s kin among 4 abducted in Manipur; 7 injured in firing
Of the four people, three are relatives of a serving army soldier. They were abducted allegedly by Meitei militants in Imphal West district on Tuesday.
Four people, including three relatives of a serving army soldier, were abducted allegedly by Meitei militants in Imphal West district on Tuesday, stoking fresh violence in ethnic strife-torn Manipur, people familiar with the matter said.
As news of the abduction spread, armed Kuki militants fired bullets towards a group of people in Kangchup area along Imphal West and Kangpokpi districts, resulting in injuries to seven people, including two policemen and a woman.
Earlier, a 65-year-old man, who was travelling with the four people — two men and two women — abducted by militants, was rescued by the security forces. Until late on Tuesday night, the four were yet to be traced, police said.
“Five Kuki people were travelling from Churachandpur to Kangpokpi (both Kuki-dominated districts). But they were allegedly intercepted and attacked by a group of Meiteis when they entered Imphal West (a Meitei dominated district) on the border with Kangpokpi,” a senior police officer said, requesting anonymity. “While security personnel later recovered one of the five, an elderly man, who sustained injuries, there is no trace of the other four.”
The man, later identified as Manglun Haokip, was airlifted to a hospital in Dimapur in Nagaland on Tuesday evening. “Our teams are conducting searches on the ground to rescue the other four,” Kangpokpi superintendent of police (SP) M Prabhakar said.
The other four who were abducted have been identified as Nengkim (60), Neilam (55), John Thangjam Haokip (25) and Jamkhotang (40).
Officials aware of the matter said that of the four who were abducted, three are relatives of a serving Indian army soldier, who is currently posted outside the state. On Tuesday evening, army officials posted in Manipur also spoke to the police and sought speedy probe to trace the four abducted residents.
Condemning the incident, Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF), a Kuki group, urged the central security forces to launch an operation to rescue the four missing persons. In a statement, the ITLF, which accused Arambai Tenggol, a Meitei organisation, behind the abduction, said that all five are Kukis.
“We fear they may have been killed or are being tortured. We fervently request central security forces to immediately launch an operation to rescue them,” the statement read.
The group admitted that Kuki “volunteers” fired at the “Meitei side” following the abduction.
“The incident took place early on Tuesday afternoon. The policemen and others sustained gunshot wounds. They have been admitted to hospitals for treatment,” a police officer said, declining to be named.
The abduction incident has come close on the heels of two Meitei teenagers — N Anthony (19) and M Avinash (16) — being reported missing from Kangpokpi district on Sunday.
Two missing Meitei teenagers feared killed
On Tuesday, Manipur police in their submission before the court said they suspect the two Meitei teenagers may have been killed by cadres of militant outfit Kuki Revolutionary Army(U).
Police are yet to find the bodies or trace them.
The documents, seen by HT, showed that police have arrested two KRA(U) cadres in the case. They were identified in papers as Lhunkhosei Chongei (30) and Satgougin Hangsing (28). “Their role in the abduction and suspected killing of the two Meitei boys is highly required,” police said in remand papers, seen by HT.
According to the police’s remand papers, police informed the court that CCTV footage showed the two teenagers, both residents of Imphal, were last seen in Gamgiphai village in Kangpokpi district at around 10.30 am after which their phones were switched off and they went missing.
Gamgiphai is a Kuki-dominated village. Police said they suspect the two might have been abducted as they neared the Kuki village.
At least 178 people have been killed and 50,000 displaced in Manipur since May 3, when ethnic violence erupted between dominant Meitei and tribal Kuki communities in the northeastern state.
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