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Manipur: Police lathi-charge mob protesting death of two youths, 30 sustain injuries

Manipur: Police lathi-charge mob protesting death of two
Image Source : FILE/REPRESENTATIVE Manipur: Police lathi-charge mob protesting death of two youths, 30 sustain injuries

The police on Tuesday lathi-charged a mob protesting the killing of two youths who had been allegedly kidnapped in July, officials said. More than 30 students were injured in the lathi charge. The students of Imphal-based schools and colleges brought out the protest rallies hours after photos of the bodies of the two youths went viral on social media, demanding arrest of those involved in the killing.

The protesters clashed with the police near Sanjenthong in Imphal East district when security forces stopped them from advancing towards the chief minister’s secretariat here. The police used tear gas shells and batons to disperse the agitators.

“School and college students took out a rally in Imphal to protest against the killing of the two youths. As the students were heading towards the CM’s Secretariat, security personnel took action to disperse them,” a police officer said. Over 30 students were injured in police action and admitted to three hospitals in Imphal, officials of the medical facilities said.

Photos surface on social media

Just a day earlier, photos of the bodies of the missing students surfaced on social media following which the Manipur government has asked people to exercise restraint and allow authorities to investigate the “kidnapping and killing” of the two. The two youths were identified as Phijam Hemjit (20) and Hijam Linthoingambi (17).

Students also took out rallies at Uripok, Old Lambulane, Singjamei in Imphal West district demanding arrest of those involved in the killing of the two youths. Similar clashes between students and security forces have been reported from Thoubal, Kakching and Bishnupur districts.

Abungo Th, a student who participated in the protest, told the media: “The missing students were killed and the govt is yet to arrest the killers. The location of the bodies where they have been buried is still unknown. The government is reluctant to take action.” In a statement issued by the secretariat of Chief Minister N Biren Singh late on Monday night, the state government said the case has already been handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

“The state police, in collaboration with the central security agencies, are actively investigating the case to determine the circumstances surrounding their disappearance and to identify the perpetrators who murdered the two students. The security forces have also started the search operation to nab the perpetrators,” the statement said. Security personnel have been put on alert, and additional measures taken to prevent any incident after the photos of the students have gone viral, a senior officer said.

The government assured people that “swift and decisive action will be taken against all those involved in the kidnapping and killing of Phijam Hemjit and Hijam Linthoingambi”, the statement said. The government is committed to ensuring justice and will impose severe punishment on any perpetrator found responsible for the heinous crime, it said.

The police had previously said that the whereabouts of the two were not known and their mobile phones were found switched off. The last location of their handsets was traced at Lamdan near the winter flower tourist spot in the Churachandpur district, they had said earlier.

Manipur violence

Manipur has been witnessing ethnic violence since early May. More than 175 people have been killed and several hundreds injured since ethnic clashes broke out in the northeastern state on May 3, when a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts to protest against the majority Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe status. Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal valley, while tribals, including Nagas and Kukis, constitute 40 per cent and reside mostly in the hill districts.

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