Forced recruitment of teens alleged

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IMPHAL, January 11: Two students of Biramangol College, Sawombung went missing in the middle of a study tour to Moreh on Friday evening and are believed to have been taken into the custody of a banned militant group.

The two missing students have been identified as Seram Romson, 17, son of Seram Loken of Pungdongbam Mayai Leikai and Sukham Bidyashore, 19, son of Shyam Singh of Nongren Mayai Leikai.

According to the family members of the missing teenagers, about 32 students belonging to the zoological department of the college had gone on the trip to Moreh. After getting information of the reported involuntary detention, the family members have reportedly rushed to Moreh.  

Meanwhile, Lamlai police picked up two persons on suspicion of collusion in a conspiracy with the militant group to whisk away the two students. Laishram Meiteingamba, son of Commander, and Irom Yaiphaba, son of late Irom Marjit, both hailing from Pungdombam Makha Leikai were taken into police custody but Yaiphaba was released summarily after verifications that he was not involved.

Sources said three students had crossed the international border to Namthalong with the purpose of meeting an ‘ahan’ (elder) at the Myanmer town. At around 4 pm, the teachers guiding the tour got the information about the disappearance of two of them from the other student.

Their companion told that Romson and Bidiyashore were waiting for the ahan to collect money at Namthalong. The elder told them that they have to travel to another place some distance away as the money cannot be handed over there. He had stayed put at Namthalong while his two college mates accompanied the suspected rebel leader, said sources.

The family members of the two students were informed about the disappearance of their wards. It was at this moment that the involvement of Meiteingamba came into consideration. The family members of Romson remembered Meiteingamba taking Ronsom’s contact number from him father. During his talk with Romson on the phone, Meiteingamba requested him to collect some money from an older person, who was later identified from Meiteingamba’s confession to the locals as Yaima, alias Tayai, a leader of KCP from the same neighborhood.

Earlier, a massive search was conducted in the wee hours today and Meiteingamba was caught from the house of Laishram Kanhai Singh, of Itam Nungoi Litan Makhong along with Yaiphaba.

When questioned about the story behind the screen, his involvement in the disappearance of the two students was confirmed. At around 7 am the police and 30 AR personnel came to Nongoi and Meiteingamba was handed over to the security personnel. Romson was asked to meet Yaima who is presently staying at Myanmar but is from Pungdongbam, said police source.

In this regard the secretary of the governing body of Brimangol College said that the excursion team has not returned from Moreh and appealed to all the students’ organisations of Manipur, and from Moreh in particular, for help.

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