The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Sunday arrested four people, including two women, for their alleged role in the abduction and killing of two Meitei students in Manipur in July. They were arrested from the hill district of Churachandpur.
The suspects were identified as Paominlun Haokip, S. Malsawm Haokip, Lhingneichong Baite, and Tinneilhing Henthang. They were flown to Guwahati from Imphal by a joint team of the CBI and Manipur Police.
During the arrest, Ms. Lhingneichong’s children aged nine and 11, were also detained along with their mother and flown to Guwahati by the joint team. They were later handed over to the District Child Protection Officer of Assam’s Kamrup Metro district, the CBI said.
Chief Minister N. Biren Singh said his government will ensure maximum punishment for the accused.
“I’m pleased to share that some of the main culprits responsible for the abduction and murder of the students have been arrested from Churachandpur today. As the saying goes, one may abscond after committing the crime, but they cannot escape the long hands of the law. We are committed to ensuring maximum punishment, including capital punishment, for the heinous crime they have committed,” Mr. Singh posted on X (formerly Twitter).
The four accused were taken “outside the State” by a special flight, Mr. Singh added. During the operation leading to their arrest, personnel of the Army, paramilitary forces such as the Border Security Force and Central Reserve Police Force, as well as the State police played a major role, he said.
However, the Kuki Students Organisation (KSO) said in a statement that two of the suspects - Mr. Malsawm and Mr. Paominlun, are neither cadres of any militant group or have any involvement in the said murder case. “They are president and general secretary of KSO Leimata Block respectively,” it said.
The students body said that it supports the call for indefinite shutdown in Churachandpur from October 2 by other tribal bodies such as the Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF) against the arbitrary arrests.
The two Meitei students had disappeared in July. Photos of bodies of the two students surfaced on social media last week, leading to massive protests which left scores of people, mostly students, injured.
This was one of the 11 cases involving women and children that were handed over to CBI in July.
A team of CBI officials, led by the agency’s Special Director Ajay Bhatnagar, had reached Manipur and started investigating the killings on September 27.
Manipur Governor Anusuiya Uikey on September 29 visited the family members of the deceased.
At least 175 people have been killed since May 3 in the ethnic violence between the tribal Kuki-Zo and the Meitei community in Manipur.