Thursday, December 7, 2023

CBI arrests ‘mastermind’ behind two missing Manipuri students

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The CBI has arrested from Pune a 22-year-old man suspected to be the mastermind behind the case of two missing Manipuri students who were believed to have been killed, officials said Friday.

The CBI which had started an extensive operation to nab the culprits using informers and technical surveillance had come to know about the alleged involvement of Paolunmang who is believed to be the mastermind behind the incident that set into motion a fresh round of protests in the state.

The special investigation team which was on the lookout for him came to know about his location at Pune in Maharashtra from where he was taken into custody.

The team immediately flew him to Guwahati to be produced before a designated court which sent him to the CBI custody till October 16 where he will be questioned on the entire incident.

The CBI is also looking for mortal remains of the two students to confirm if they have been actually killed after they went missing, they said.

Phijam Hemanjit (20) and Hijam Linthoingambi, a girl aged 17 years, had gone missing on July 6.Photos purportedly showing their bodies surfaced on September 25, leading to violent protests, mainly by students.

“The government will support the CBI in its investigation and all those involved in the killing of the two youths will be arrested,” Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh had said.

The CBI had arrested two men, Paominlun Haokip and Smalsawm Haokip, and two women, Lhingneichong Baitekuki and Tinneilhing Henthang, on October 1.

Based on the complaints of the victims’ parents, the two cases related to the missing students were earlier registered with the Imphal Police and Lamphel Police on July 8 and July 19, respectively.The CBI had taken over investigation into these two cases on August 23.

After the photos went viral on September 25, CBI Director Praveen Sood dispatched a special team, led by the agency’s Special Director Ajay Bhatnagar, which reached Manipur on September 27 to monitor and help the probe.

More than 180 people lost their lives and several hundreds were injured in ethnic clashes that broke out in Manipur on May 3, after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe status.

Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley.Tribals — Nagas and Kukis — constitute a little over 40 per cent and reside in the hill districts.

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