IMPHAL May 22: Two cadres of the underground militant outfit, Zeliangrong United Front, and a jawan of the 13 Assam Rifles were killed in an encounter on Wednesday around 8.30 pm at Khambirol approximately 13 kilometers off the Nungba Police station in Tamenglong district.
All the three dead bodies have been brought to Imphal and deposited at the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences for post mortem.
According to the driver of the Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), a Bolero DI, which he was compelled to drive by unidentified ZUF cadres, three ZUF cadres barge into his residence and force him to drive them in his Bolero Di at gun point. But the total ZUF cadres he ferried were five in number with two sitting in the front and three in the back.
“We were proceeding from Nungba towards Jiribam on theNational Highway-37, Imphal Jiribam Road, and came across a team of the 13 Assam Rifles personnel frisking and checking vehicles passing along the road around 8.30pm on Wednesday,” the driver of the allegedly hijacked SUV told IFP.
He said they were signalled to stop by the Assam Rifle personnel and at that instant one of the ZUF cadres pointd a gun at him asking him not to stop and accelerate, adding that he didn’t stop at the check point and sped away from the Assam Rifle personnel.
“After speeding away from the Assam Rifles check point, we came across an Assam Rifles truck parked in the middle of the road blocking the way. I was pulled down by the Assam Rifles personnel and enquired why our vehicle didn’t stop when signalled to do so by the frisking team. I told them that I was being kidnapped and the kidnappers didn’t allow me to stop,” he said.
The driver continued that the Assam Rifles personnel proceeded towards the vehicle when one of the ZUF cadres open fired resulting in the death of a personnel on the spot and leaving two others seriously injured.
In the ensuing gun battle, two ZUF cadres also lost their lives, added the driver of the hijacked SUV.
The two slain cadres of the proscribed ZUF have been identified as Mukudin Luangmei, 32, son of Lungnihai Luangmei of Khoupum Thanagon who, according to his family members, was a cadre of ZUF for past many years and Mathewlan Phaomei, 30, son of Paopilung Paomei of Mukti Khulen,Tamenglong District.
On the other hand, the deceased Assam Rifles personnel is identified as Takellambam Gokil alias Nanao, 25, son of Dineshor of Akham Mamang Leikai.
The other two injured Assam Rifles personnel have been identified as Atwa Ekka and Lalit kumar who were evacuated from the site of the encounter in army helicopters and is presently undergoing treatment at Leimakhong Military Hospital.
The Assam Rifle personnel who arrested the three remaining cadres recover two AK 47 assault rifles with ammunition and hand grenades.
Meanwhile, the proscribed ZUF has offered condolences at the death of its cadres.
“The blood of our fallen brave heroes shall be an inspiration to sustain hope and courage to move forward for the cause of Zeliangrong and kindred tribes in our future ventures. They left an indelible foot print for all of us to follow. The dreams of a healthy Zeliangrong shall inspire our people from generation to generation,” a press statement signed by Dangmei, the secretary of Information & Publicity, ZUF says.
It further says that ZUF mourns the death of cadres who have given their life for people to live in peace and harmony, adding that it also shares the grief of the bereaved families.
The Front acknowledged profound gratitude to people from all walks of life including Zeliangrong Baudi, AZSU, ZSUM, Zonal units and locals people who have showered immense love sympathy towards the lost.
A press statement of the PIB (Defence Wing) has said “Rifleman TG Singh of 13 Assam Rifles deployed in Counter Insurgency Operations under Red Shield Division was martyred while countering terrorist action in the general area of Nungba on 21 May 14.”
It said rifleman TG Singh was part of an Area Domination patrol along the NH-37 near Nungba when suspected ZUF cadres opened indiscriminate fire from a fleeing vehicle.
With utter disregard to his personal safety, displaying admirable courage and determination, Rifleman TG Singh returned fire from his personal weapon and killed a suspected ZUF cadre, it said.
The statement further stated that his gallant action resulted in apprehension of three cadres of ZUF alongwith recovery of arms and ammunitions.
The last rites of the martyr will be undertaken from his residence at Akham Magan Leikei near Lamson with full military honour, it said.