IMPHAL, November 2: A JCB excavator being used in the road development of Tongjei Maril also known as Old Cachar Road was set ablaze by four armed miscreants last night at Nungsai Tubung village under Khoupum Police Station,Tamenglong district.
The unfortunate incident occurred at around 9 pm on Saturday at the residence of Kamei Pumdai, 48, where heavy machineries used in the road development works on Tongjei Maril were placed.
The unknown armed miscreants suspected to be cadres of an UG group torched the JCB excavator which was parked near the courtyard after firing a few gun shots on its right side. They also later shot at a bull dozer. All the family members of Kamei Pumdai were asleep when the incident happened.
Locals of the Nungsai Tubung village who rushed to the spot after hearing the gun shots told media persons that the armed miscreants threatened them to not make any attempts to extinguish the fire. The locals were however able to control the fire and protect the bull dozer after the armed miscreant left the spot but could not save the excavator which had been burnt to ashes.
Shocked at the incident, Pumdai’s wife lost consciousness and is still suffering from a fear psychosis as the sudden gunshots set ablaze the machine blowing up the oil tank, battery and tyres of the JCB. Fortunately, the bull dozer was burned only at the seat portion as the locals were able to extinguish the fire at around 11 pm.
People of the locality lodged a complaint at the nearby Army post of 2/5 Gorkha Regiment and 1st IRB situated just opposite the spot of the incident. Personnel from the army post arrived at the spot only this morning. A case has been registered at the Khoupum Police station.
It may be mentioned that the development of the road stretch from Jouzangtek to Rengpang which is about 69.52 Km was awarded to Keystone Infra Pvt Ltd. The sanction amount is 147.71 crores.
The development of the first stretch is funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) through the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DONER) under the project ‘North Eastern States Road Investment Programme’ while the second stretch is funded by the North East Council.
Meanwhile, various civil bodies in the Khoupum area have strongly condemned the incident. Speaking to media persons, Koupum Area Village Authority Council secretary Chamdimei Malangmei termed the incident at the Nungsai Tubung village as unfortunate because the government after a long gap took the decision of repairing the Old Cachar Road.
It was only recently that the Chief Minister of Manipur Okram Ibobi and Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam inaugurated the road development works on September 8, he added.
Chamdimei said the civil bodies have taken a resolution today to condemn the incident in which the JCB excavator was set ablaze by the armed miscreants and demanded a clarification within three days.
Khoupum Area Village Authority Council, ZSUKA, Khoupum Rongmei Lue Phuang (women union) and Khoupum Sub-division Chiefs Association held a public meeting at the Khuopum area today regarding the incident.
It was decided in the meeting to organise another public meeting along with a convention for protection from such unwanted incidents in the Khuopum area along with the concerned authorities of the State government and representatives of Keystone Infra Private limited etc.
The road development project which has been kept on halt for many years is finally taking off giving hope to the people of the area. Now, the road development work belongs to us even if a private company is undertaking it with funding from the NEC, Chamdimei said.
He continued that the road provides hope to the people of the area to leave the dark days of bad connectivity behind. People of Khuopum and its adjoining areas have faced many difficulties in the past to the extent in which many people died on their way to the hospital due to the condition of the road.
People have faced harassment from various organisations and in some cases they have been assaulted black and blue for undertaking development or welfare projects in the area, he said.
Zeiliangrong Student Union Khoupum Area convenor Dungam Dangmei said that all organisations have decided to demand a clarification from any individual or organisation involved in the unfortunate incident within three days.
The meeting decided to monitor the area where the construction of road is taking place by deploying volunteers from the civil organisations so that no disturbance is created in future against the road development of the Old Cachar Road.
In a later development, NSCN-K/GPRN Zeliangrong region has clarified that a NSCN-K central team, mobile aid disrupted road development work at Jaojangtek to Rengpang without the prior authorisation of senior officials of the concerned Southern zone. It reiterated that NSCN/K Zeliangrong region was not involved in the incident.
Further it clarified that the outfit is trying to find out the culprit involved, and deal with them as per norms of the organisation to prevent it from recurring in the future.