Punish the murderers of Richard Loitam of Manipur

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By Jagdamba Mall
“Bhaiya mat maaro” were perhaps the last words of Richard Loitam – a 19 year Meitei Hindu 1st year student of architecture at the Acharya NRV Institute of Architecture, Bangaluru on 17th April 2012 who came to Bangaluru with the dream of becoming an architect but died instead after being attacked by two of his seniors – Vishal Benerjee and Syed Afzal Ali – both from Jharkhand in his college hostel on that fateful day. The two seniors had attacked Richard Loitam following an argument over watching an IPL match in the college hostel.

As per the report gathered from the fellow students who were present at the time of brawl, Loitam’s head was forcibly pushed against the window rods of hall. His head and vulnerable and sensitive parts of his body bore marks of severe assaults with some blunt object and was bleeding profusely from mouth and nose. When the door of his room did not open next day i.e. 18th April 2012 till noon and he was not responding to any loud call, he was found dead when his door was break-opened. Richard Loitam was a cheerful and obedient son of his doctor parents in Imphal, Manipur. He was an avid footballer, a music lover, cordial, sincere and bright student.

Instead of showing a human sympathy to the innocent victim student and his wailing parents and family members, the police and management concocted the story of Loitam being a drug addict who met with an accident because of which his death occurred. Even on the lapse of 21 days of filing this report on 9th May 2012, the culprits – Vishal Benerjee and Syed Afjal Ali are still not arrested and are in the hostel under police protection. They are neither rusticated nor punished in any manner even though a case of murder has been lodged in the police station under section 302 and 306 of Cr.P.C. They are attending regular classes.

On hearing the news of death of Richard Loitam, the team of Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) under the leadership of Ningombam Sanjeev Kumar – a resident of Imphal (Manipur) and a research scholar Ph.D. student in Management in Bangalore University who is a national executive member of ABVP, visited the place of incident, took the stock of situation, met the College Principal, warden and all other concerned faculty member and employees and submitted a memorandum to Principal expressing the anguish over the inaction of police and college authorities and instead spreading over the mischievous propaganda against the dead – Richard Loitam. ABVP organized protest rally and submitted a similar memorandum to Shri R. Ashok, Home Minister of Karnataka Government as well, but in vain.

Back home, the student bodies in Manipur and other States of North-East Region are continuously agitating demanding the justice from State Government of Karnataka and Union Government. The print and electronic media has given a large coverage to this incident. The agitators clearly say if the victim was from any other State out of North-East Zone and the culprits/murderers were from North-East Region, could the law enforcing agencies under the control of Karnataka Government and Union Government remain as inactive as they are in this case? Such step-motherly behavior of Delhi and Bangaluru adds to already existing segregation and disenchantments in the minds of people of NE Region. The anti-national forces most active in Manipur and other NE States add fuel to the fire. To extinguish the fire of discontent and discrimination, the concerned Governments of Karnataka and Delhi must act decisively to do justice to the victim and his parents to restore the confidence.

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