CBI Arrests Four in Connection with Abduction and Murder of Meitei Students in Manipur

Manipur News: In a significant move, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) apprehended four individuals, including two women, on Sunday, in connection with the alleged abduction and murder of two Meitei students in Manipur back in July. The arrests took place in the hill district of Churachandpur.

The suspects are identified as Paominlun Haokip, S. Malsawm Haokip, Lhingneichong Baite, and Tinneilhing Henthang. They were swiftly transported to Guwahati from Imphal by a joint operation involving the CBI and Manipur Police.

During the arrests, the children of Ms. Lhingneichong, aged 9 and 11, were also taken into custody alongside their mother. They were subsequently handed over to the District Child Protection Officer of Assam’s Kamrup Metro district, as confirmed by the CBI.

Manipur’s Chief Minister, N. Biren Singh, expressed his commitment to ensuring that the accused face the maximum penalty for their actions.

He stated, “I’m pleased to share that some of the main culprits responsible for the abduction and murder of the students have been arrested from Churachandpur today.

As the saying goes, one may abscond after committing the crime, but they cannot escape the long hands of the law. We are committed to ensuring maximum punishment, including capital punishment, for the heinous crime they have committed,” in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

Mr. Singh also mentioned that the four accused were taken “outside the State” by a special flight, emphasizing the significant role played by various law enforcement agencies, including the Army, paramilitary forces like the Border Security Force and Central Reserve Police Force, as well as the State police, during the operation leading to their arrest.

However, the Kuki Students Organisation (KSO) released a statement countering the accusations against two of the suspects, Mr. Malsawm and Mr. Paominlun. According to the KSO, these individuals are neither members of any militant group nor involved in the said murder case. They hold the positions of president and general secretary of KSO Leimata Block, as per the organization’s statement.

In a show of solidarity, the students’ body expressed support for the indefinite shutdown called for in Churachandpur from October 2 by other tribal organizations, including the Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF), to protest against what they perceive as arbitrary arrests.

The two Meitei students had gone missing in July, and the discovery of photographs depicting their lifeless bodies on social media last week ignited massive protests, resulting in numerous injuries, primarily among students.

This incident is one of the 11 cases involving women and children that were transferred to the CBI in July.

A team of CBI officials, led by the agency’s Special Director, Ajay Bhatnagar, arrived in Manipur and initiated investigations into the killings on September 27.

Furthermore, on September 29, Manipur Governor Anusuiya Uikey visited the families of the deceased.

Tragically, ethnic violence between the tribal Kuki-Zo and the Meitei community in Manipur has claimed the lives of at least 175 individuals since May 3, highlighting the urgent need for peace and reconciliation efforts in the region.