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Manipur CM apologises publicly, 16 cops suspended over tribal leader’s killing

The Chief Minister said that 16 policemen including some troopers of Manipur Rifles have been suspended as Abonmai was shot dead soon after he was whisked away by gunmen from Tamenglong district headquarters on Wednesday. His bullet-riddled body was found on Thursday evening.

IANS | Imphal |

After the widespread condemnation of the assassination of an influential tribal leader by unidentified militants, Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh on Friday publicly apologised for the police inaction leading to the abduction and gunning down of Athuan Abonmai.

The Chief Minister said that 16 policemen including some troopers of Manipur Rifles have been suspended as Abonmai was shot dead soon after he was whisked away by gunmen from Tamenglong district headquarters on Wednesday. His bullet-riddled body was found on Thursday evening.

Talking to the media at his office, Singh said that after getting reports that the policemen were mere onlookers while Abonmai was being dragged out and bundled into a waiting jeep, I wondered how the morale of the police had lowered to such an extent.

“Police should have taken swift action and saved the life of Abonmai. We have suspended 16 police personnel including a few officers for dereliction of duty,” said the Chief Minister, who holds the Home Department.

He said that Manipur Director General of Police L.M Khaute has constituted a high-level committee headed by Radhashyam Singh, Inspector General of Police (Intelligence) while two other IG rank officials K. Kabib and Kamei Angam Romanus would be the members.

The Chief Minister said that his government would seek a National Investigation Agency investigation if there are reasonable grounds of doubt of a nexus between some policemen and the terrorists.

Singh said: “As the Home Minister and head of the government, I expressed my sincere apology to the bereaved family and the people for the cowardly action of the murder of a popular public leader.”

Abonmai, the former president of Zeliangrong Baudi, a tribal-based local council in Tamenglong district and a leader of the Naga People’s Front (NPF), had been abducted on Wednesday when the Chief Minister, accompanied by his ministerial colleagues, visited the hill district bordering Assam and Nagaland to inaugurate some projects as a part of the state’s ‘Go to Hills’ campaign.

According to the police officials, the tribal leader was reportedly abducted while he was on his way to attend the Chief Minister’s programme.

Local media reports said that 20 armed cadres of a hill-based extremist outfit kidnapped Abonmai near Pallong village.

Police are yet to ascertain the motive behind the incident with no militant group claiming responsibility for the abduction and killing of the tribal leader.

Many organisations condemned the incident and demanded an explanation from the perpetrators on the motive behind the assassination.

Manipur Congress working president Keisham Meghachandra Singh describing Abonmai as the voice of unity and integrity of Manipur said his assassination must be taken with the utmost seriousness and the perpetrators must be punished.