A 62-year-old woman ailing from mental illness was shot dead by unidentified miscreants near a school in Imphal West on Thursday.
The woman, identified as Hangzo Debora Donngaihching and belonging to the Kuki-Zo community, was living in a hut next to a church in Lamphelpat, an area housing government quarters. She had refused to leave Imphal after ethnic violence erupted in the State on May 3. Her relatives and neighbours fled to Delhi or moved to Churachandpur in the hills but she chose to stay put, one of her relatives said.
“She was being take care of by a Naga woman all this while. We tried to convince her to leave the area as it is not safe but she did not listen to us. She used to say that god will protect her. Now, none of us can claim her body, it will be kept in a morgue,” Tara Manchinhangzo, a relative who fled to Delhi after the violence, said.
Ms. Manchinhangzo said that the deceased had been missing from the church area since last night. “We have been told that she boarded an autorickshaw and was shot dead near Shishu Nishta Niketan School (about five kilometres away). When she was alive, she often used to come to our house that is near the school, for food. I presume she thought we are still there,” Ms. Manchinhangzo said.
A police source said that there were multiple versions on the circumstances under which she was killed.
“We are checking CCTV footage to know what happened. We also found a bag on her, which had some documents — that is how we identified her,” the source said.
Meanwhile, the source said that the police had received a complaint of two missing persons in Kakching district.
Women’s groups protested at Kakching. They said two men identified as Sagolsem Ngaleima and Irengbam Chingkheinganba Meetei had been missing since July 4 and are feared killed by armed miscreants.
Nearly 140 persons have been killed since ethnic violence between the Kuki and Meitei communities erupted on May 3, and more than 60,000 people have been displaced.
Manipur Police said in a statement that following the decision taken in the joint meeting of the Unified Command chaired by Chief Minister N. Biren Singh earlier this week, a joint team of Central Armed Police Forces and the State Police had conducted search operations in vulnerable and fringe areas in both hill and valley districts. “Twenty-four bunkers used by armed miscreants were destroyed in Imphal East, Kangpokpi and Imphal West districts. A similar operation will be conducted in other places also,” the police said.
On July 4, police arrested the self-styled chief of the proscribed United National Liberation Front (UNLF) group, identified as Colonel Ngagom Pamheiba, in Imphal East.