In yet another significant setback in the peace process in Manipur, police have arrested three Kuki tribal militants on the charge of kidnapping two drivers for a ransom of Rs. 20 lakhs. The Kuki National Front (N-faction) to which these militants belong is one of the tribal outfits which had signed the suspension of operations with the Union government as the first step towards the restoration of peace.

Talking to reporters on Sunday, the drivers, Dhana Karam and Opendro Soram said, on December 15 Thangboi, a tribal, hired their recovery van for a fee of Rs. 20,000 for bringing back a truck from Churachandpur district and paid an advance of Rs. 15,000. However, on arriving Churachandpur, the drivers were held as captive for a ransom of Rs. 20 lakh from the owner of the recovery van. To evade police, the drivers were constantly shifted.

On Sunday, when they were being brought towards Saikul, a Kuki dominated area, they had to negotiate a rickety bridge near Pangei, where both the drivers kicked open the door and fled towards a police team.

Police arrested the militants who were identified as Luminthang Kipgen, Seikhothang Kipgen and Seiboi Waiphei, all from Churachandpur district.

There are increasing reports of lootings of trucks and other vehicles along Highway-2. Officials say that these instances are being brought to the notice of the joint monitoring cell of the suspension of operations.

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