By Paojel Chaoba
IMPHAL, January 25: The policeman who was responsible for sensational daylight killing of Chungkham Sanjit Singh on July 23, 2009 has confessed his deed.
Head constable Thounaojam Herojit Singh, 33, son of Th Shyamsunder Singh of Lamdeng Awang Leikai revealed to select media persons, including the Indian Express and CNN-IBN, for the first time his part in the staged encounter to kill Sanjit.
Herojit who is unhappy that he is now being made the scapegoat by his organization when the chips are down, making him bear all the responsibility of the crime, said he was only following orders of a superior officer.
“Then Sir Jhalajit commended me that it was good work and said, ‘Touthok-khro!” (dispatch him), Herojit said.
In his account made before a group of press men today at an undisclosed location, Herojit has alleged that the order to kill Sanjit was given to him by Akoijam Jhalajit Singh, the then Additional SP of Imphal West and presently the SP of Imphal West, at the spot of the crime itself.
Recounting before video cameras of the media organisations the incident which left Sanjit and Thokchom Rabina dead, Herojit said that on the morning of July 23, 2009, he was given information by a steel merchant that some extremists had come to his shop regarding a monitory demand.
He went to the shop on his motorcycle but found the three persons had left. Herojit asked the shopkeeper to give descriptions and announced over the police wireless that three underground activists had entered the bazaar area for extortion and were armed.
He said he alerted the main entrances to the bazaar area to be closed off and to start combing operations. He and another policeman then started combing the bazaar area promptly for the people fitting the description. But, he was unable to locate them. At around 10 am, he went to have lunch.
While at lunch, he suddenly got the message over the police wireless set that there has been an encounter at near Bir Tikendrajit Park. Leaving his meal barely touched, he rushed to the spot. As he approached the area, he was told by some policemen that a man had fired on them when asked to stop for verification and ran away.
Since the State Assembly was in session at the time, security presence was strong and a combing operation around BT Park and nearby buildings was immediately conducted.
Some moments later, he learned that a pistol was recovered from the entrance of Gambhir Singh arcade. “I saw some four persons being escorted from one of the buildings nearby by our boys at that moment. His colleague, Toyaima identified Sanjit as the one who fired at him,” Herojit said.
He said Toyaima tried to assault Sanjit, but he stopped him and took Sanjit inside Maimu Pharmacy for questioning. He searched Sanjit and seized a mobile phone from him. No sooner “the mobile began ringing. I did not pick it up at first, but after a couple of times, I took the call and put it on speaker mode so that Sanjit could also hear,” Herojit said.
“The voice on the other end said that they were aware of the arrest and pleaded with the police officer to spare the life of his captive, and indicated they would pay any amount, to be delivered wherever he wished,” Herojit said. Herojit told the man on the other end that he was not that type of policeman, and ended the call.
He said he then told Sanjit that since they both heard the conversation on the phone, he cannot deny he was involved, and ordered him to start cooperating.
“At that moment, I was told that the additional SP had arrived so I asked my friends to guard Sanjit and went out of Maimu Pharmacy to meet Sir Jhalajit,” Herojit said.
Then he met the additional SP, Akoijam Jhalajit Singh outside and had confirmed to him that Sanjit was the culprit. “Then Sir Jhalajit commended me that it was good work and said, ‘Touthok-khro!” (dispatch him), Herojit said.
“I cautioned him that this would not be wise as there were too many media persons and civilians at the spot,” he said.
“Then Sir Jhalajit replied that there will be no problem as the Chief Minister and DGP already have knowledge and consented to it, there will be no problem, just go ahead,” he said.
Herojit however reminded Jhalajit of the presence of media at the spot. “Sir Jhalajit said that he would take care of it and told the reporters that the man they were looking for was at another area and rushed towards the Kangla gate side. The reporters also went and followed Sir Jhalajit.” At that moment, Herojit went back to Maimu Pharmacy and told the other policemen to go out of the room.
“I was alone and facing Sanjit, then, I removed my pistol from the holster and shot him about six times. He died at the spot. All that happened was also witnessed by a person at Maimu pharmacy. He was looking at my name plate, so I warned him if he at all squeaked about what he saw, he will meet the same fate as the man on the ground,” Herojit said.
He said he then came out and saw the recovery van pulling up at the entrance. “Only then I saw a corpse of a woman, and later learnt it was that of Rabina.”
I had checked the weapon which was recovered from Gambhir Singh entrance, it was a Mauser and a bullet was stuck in the chamber,” he told media persons today. The other weapon supposedly found with the Sanjit was planted, he said.