New Delhi: Arrests by the Central Bureau of Investigation of four individuals from the Kuki community over their alleged involvement in the killing of two students who went missing in July, have led to retaliatory protests by members of the Kuki community who have called for an indefinite shutdown of the Churachandpur district.
Deccan Herald has reported that the CBI arrests, announced by chief minister N. Biren Singh, coupled with another arrest of a Kuki man by the National Investigation Agency a day ago led to the call for the shutdown. Seiminlun Gangte was held by the NIA over his alleged involvement in the “transnational conspiracy” that stoked the ongoing violence in Manipur, the report said. The NIA further claimed that Gangte played a role in an alleged network through which insurgent leaders based in neighbouring Myanmar and Bangladesh have provided funds to procure arms, ammunition and other “terrorist hardware”.
CM Biren said on Sunday, October 1, that the accused in the students’ death case had been taken to Guwahati by a special flight, according to Indian Express.
Biren noted in his tweet that the arrests had been made from Churachandpur and added lines on his government’s commitment to ensuring “maximum punishment, including capital punishment” for the crimes.
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…
— N.Biren Singh (@NBirenSingh) October 1, 2023 Footage pointing to the murder of the two students had led to widespread protests among Meitei community members. Allegations had also been levelled against security forces’ reported use of pellet guns.
The Kuki organisation Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF) announced that it has resolved to shut down the district of Churachandpur, which they refer to as Lamka. In their statement quoted by Deccan Herald, the group called the arrested persons “abductees” and urged the NIA and CBI to release them in 48 hours.
“All boundary areas with the Meitei will be sealed from Monday. No one will be allowed to enter or leave the buffer zones. All government offices will be closed from Monday,” their statement said. The internet shutdown in Manipur, which was reimposed on September 26, has been extended till October 6. The earlier order lapsed on October 1.
The internet had been back in place for barely three days after the 143-day-long shutdown that began on May 3 before it was shut down again.
“There is apprehension that some anti-social elements might use social media extensively for transmission of images, hate speech and hate video messages inciting the passions of the public which might have serious repercussions for the law and order situation in the state of Manipur,” the state government October 1 order said.
“It has become necessary to take adequate measures to maintain law and order in public interest, by stopping the spread of disinformation and false rumours, through various social media platforms such as Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. on various electronic equipment…” it continued.