IMPHAL, January 27: The sensational news break in the Imphal Free Press in its January 26 edition, of how a disillusioned head constable of the Manipur Police Commandos, Thounaojam Herojit, confessed to his part in the broad daylight killing of an unarmed militant suspect, Chungkham Sanjit on July 23, 2009, in the crowded B.T. Road, has been met with unprecedented interest in both Manipur as well as in the rest of the country.
As IFP reported yesterday, the head constable was unhappy that his organisation was leaving him to fend for himself for what he claims he did on the order of a superior officer, Ak. Jhaljit, the current SP Imphal West, while he was still an Additional SP.
Herojit and eight other policemen colleagues were suspended, and though their services have still been reinstated, were still fighting court cases. He said not only were all nine of them told to fight their cases on their own, but it was becoming increasingly clear to him that they would be made scapegoat of the crime of July 23, 2009.
It may be recalled, even a CBI investigation into the killing had clearly stated head constable Herojit was the man who gunned down the captured young man Sanjit. Obviously, it was becoming clear that he would be facing conviction in the case, as others he claimed made him do what he did, went scot free.
He also had claimed that he feared for his life as he held vital information that would implicate his higher officer in the crime. He told a select group of media persons that he had held back these information in the belief that his superiors would bail him out if he did so, and that now his loyalty was set to condemn him and his career.
He had also said his other constable colleagues who were facing the heat of the case were innocent, and they had suffered all the while because he did not make these confessions to the CBI inquiry. He told the media that he hoped his confession now would exonerate them altogether.
Versions of the news have since been also published in the Indian Express daily and broadcast in the popular national cable network, CNN-IBN, eliciting more outraged public reactions everywhere in the country, and some responses from the Central government circles.
The Imphal Free Press has been receiving calls from everywhere in the country since the time the story appeared on January 26, and more so today after they also appeared in the national media and news channels.
Social media forums have also been agog with the news for all of the last two days.
There has been also a steady stream of people coming to buy copies of the January 26 edition of the Imphal Free Press from the newspaper’s office immediately after the edition hit the stands, although it was a press holiday yesterday. The stream of customers continued into today.
Manipur government as well as the police have been more or less tight-lipped so far, although the Imphal West SP, Ak. Jhalajit has issued a rebuttal of what the head constable Herojit has alleged was his part in the fake encounter case.
Beneath the calm however the tension is palpable, and newspaper offices as well as readers anxiously await more developments on the matter in the days ahead.