IMPHAL, December 28: A woman and her child sustained bullet injuries in police firing. Another two persons including a minor also sustained bullet injuries and among them the women had to undergo surgery and is presently under treatment at Shija Hospital.
The incident occurred yesterday around 7.30 pm at Somrei village, which is located around 5 kilometers east from Yairipok bazaar along Kasom Khullen road. The village is inhabited by the Tangkhul community.
A media team went to the spot today to inquire about the incident. On reaching Somrei village, there was a road block by the villagers and the residents of the village had come out to protest the shooting.
Placards in hand, they stormed the gates of the Anupam Bridge Construction Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd (ABCI) at around 1 pm today. The company workers engaged in the construction of the Kasom Khullen road is guarded by personnel of the 3rd IRB and Thoubal police commandos as there have been incidents of ABCI officials being kidnapped for ransom by underground groups in the past.
The angry protestors alleged that one of the villagers namely Anando Chithung, 45, son of Lungshim was assaulted by commando personnel at around 7 pm on Sunday when he was returning back to the village. The irate villagers came out at night and stormed the ABCI campus demanding the concerned personnel to be punished, resulting in a scuffle, during which the police fired to disperse the mob.
One woman namely S Shimreiwon, 30, wife of (L) Ungsonmi was wounded in the abdomen area and is undergoing treatment at Shija Hospital presently.
Her son, S Sumikon, 13, was also injured in the left hand but has been discharged from hospital today.
Another minor, KS Ngalingam, 14, son of Hochoching was also injured in the right hand and is being treated at RIMS.
A teacher of South Tangkhul Naga Baptist Association (STNBA) High School, Ngasonhor, 29, son of Samson from Ukhrul district was also injured in the elbow by a bullet but has been discharged.
After the firing, the security personnel also rounded up some people from the ABCI campus and detained them till today morning. The four persons are S Leiseingam, 28, S Sothemhong, 35, H Thashung, 14 and SP Chinaochung, 54, they were also beaten up by the security personnel, the villagers alleged.
However, when the police sentries located inside were questioned by the media, they said that there has been a gross misunderstanding among the villagers and the security personnel.
The person namely Anando Chithung was found in an inebriated state fallen along the Kasom Khullen Road near STNBA High School by a police team in a bulletproof vehicle. Chithung was injured as the scooter he was riding had skidded along the gravel road. The police team had transported him till the village gate in their vehicle, the police sentries told the media.
But, after some time, the villagers came out in large numbers holding clubs and other weapons and stormed the ABCI campus. The officer in charge, Arun from Thangmeiband was trying to calm the crowd, but was clubbed from behind in the darkness by a villager, they claimed.
This led to the tussle and the sentries resorted to firing live rounds and some villagers were injured, the sentries said.
Arun sustained a head wound and was hospitalized at Yairipok Khoirom PHC.
To confirm the story, Anando Chithung was asked on how he was injured.
He had some marks on his cheeks and his arm was in a sling. He recounted that there was Christmas celebrations on the night of December 26 at their village.
Some police personnel came to the village in civilian clothing and in their drunken stupor, misbehaved with the women, he claimed, adding that, his younger brother had warned the police personnel on the Public Announcement system to leave the village immediately.
At this announcement, the security personnel became agitated and threatened his brother that there would be reprisal from them, he further said.
On the morning of December 27, Anando was approached by his younger brother to mediate with the police regarding the matter and he had gone to meet the officer in charge of ABCI Company Arun and talked with him about the matter.
The sentries also came in and had stated that they would not come for the celebrations as they were insulted by his brother. Anando apologized on his brother’s behalf, he later left the campus and went to procure some wood for the ABCI Company.
He further told the scribes that he came back with his friend Ajo in a scooter in the evening from a wood mill but met with an accident near STNBA School.
He said that he and his friend had had some drinks and skidded on the gravel. At the moment, Anando saw a light coming in the distance and halted the vehicle which turned out to be the police bulletproof vehicle. He asked for a ride and was transported till the village gate.
“I think that I was pushed or kicked from the vehicle, but I was not assaulted inside the vehicle,” Anando said.
He later went to his house where he was inquired by family members on his facial injury to which he replied that the police had beaten him up.
Later, the irate villagers mobbed the ABCI campus leading to the skirmishes during which the four were injured.
At the same time, the land which the ABCI is using belongs to Anando Chithung himself and he had leased the land at RS 20,000 per annum since 2013. The contract is renewed every 2 years.
Meanwhile, the Tangkhul Naga Aze Longphang (TNAL), Tangkhul Naga Foothills Organization (TNFO) and Democratic Students Alliance of Manipur (DESAM) have jointly condemned the firing on innocent civilians.
The civil bodies along with the Somrei village JAC has condemned the incident and given a 10-day deadline for the ABCI to vacate the campus, to terminate the concerned police personnel involved in the incident and award monetary compensation to the injured villagers failing which intense agitations will be launched.