Manipur seeks NIA probe into kidnap, murder of social activist

State official says killing of Athuan Abomei is suspected to be handiwork of NSCN (IM) cadres

The Manipur government has requested the Union government to order a probe by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) into the kidnap and brutal murder of social activist Athuan Abomei on September 22 in Tamenglong district, where security was beefed up as the Chief Minister, Ministers and officials were present.

On Saturday, H. Gyan Prakash, Special Secretary (Home), sent a letter to the Special Secretary (Internal Security), Ministry of Home Affairs, requesting handing over the investigation to the NIA. Reports say that Abonmei had come to the Tamenglong football ground at 11 a.m. on September 22 to take part in the inauguration of several developmental projects by Chief Minister N. Biren.

The body was found near Pallong village in Tamenglong district. Mr. Biren, who also holds the Home portfolio, sent armed personnel to Tamenglong district to track the killers of Abonmei. However, there had been charges in the social media that the troops and policemen were ordered to return.

‘No such order’

K. Jayanta, Inspector-General of Police (Zone I), who is leading the massive search operation, said, “There was no such order. The Press should have cross-checked before publishing this report”.

Mr. Biren said the Home department had never issued such an instruction. “It may be part of the strategy. Our concern is to nab those responsible [for the killing].”

Referring to the reported presence of designated camps of the NSCN (IM) in Manipur, where ceasefire was not extended, Mr. Biren said that if and when such camps were found, he would request the Centre for necessary action.

There has been criticism from many sides that the State and Central forces remained mute spectators when some armed persons abducted Abonmei and bundled him away in a jeep. Later his body was found 34 km away from the venue. Reports say his skull was smashed with a sledge hammer and spade.

Mr. Prakash says that it is suspected to be the handiwork of some NSCN (IM) cadres, an outfit which is now engaged in “political talks” with the Centre. Abonmei had contested the Assembly polls and was adviser to the Zeliangrong Baudi, Manipur, Assam and Nagaland.

Mr. Prakash says, “In view of the sensitive nature of the case and possible inter-State ramifications, it is felt that it is a fit case for investigation by the NIA”.

Meanwhile, activists have announced agitation unless the government nabbed the gunmen responsible for the heinous crime. They are refusing to claim the body of Abonmei saying that the killers should be first accounted for.

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