Source: Waari Singbul Network

1/2/20243 min read

Imphal: Proscribed armed outfit of Manipur, Revolutionary Peoples’ Front (RPF) shed light on the unsettling events that transpired on the evening of New Year’s Day in Lilong, resulting in the loss of four innocent lives and injuring eight others. The RPF clarified their mission was an attempt to apprehend a drug lord who had persistently flouted warnings to halt illegal drug trading which the locals of the area intervened without understanding the mission, resulting in the shootout in self-defence.

Police reports, registered under FIR No. 01(01)2023LIL-PS u/s 302/435/34IPC, 20UA(P) A. Act & 25(1-C) Arms Act, detailed the sequence of events. Armed miscreants in four Maruti Gypsies opened fire in the localities of Lilong Tamyai and Chingjao, near Md. Hassan’s residence, while allegedly attempting to abduct him. When locals intervened to prevent the abduction, the armed group resorted to firing, resulting in casualties and injuries. The miscreants fled on foot, abandoning their vehicles which were later set ablaze by enraged locals.

Eyewitnesses recounted the shock of armed individuals donning police uniforms brazenly passing through security zones undetected.

Irshad Hussain, a social activist, decried the deteriorating law and order situation in the state, labeling it a failure. He demanded the armed miscreants booked under the law of the land.

“This is not the first act of dacoity, they were many such incidents. Miscreants are roaming around freely fully armed and terrorizing civilians in the name of saving the State amidst the current ethnic clashes. This must stop and the government should act swiftly to punish the terrorists,” said Hussain.

The victims, all from financially disadvantaged backgrounds, leave behind shattered families. Makakmayum Sophia, daughter of one victim, M Azad (44) recounted the tragic moment her father left home to search for her missing brothers, never to return.

“We were having dinner last night at around 7 pm when we heard the commotion. My father realized my younger brothers had not returned home. So, he got worried and despite my request not to go out, he went out not to come back,” sobs a soft-spoken Sophia.

Similarly, Md. Daulat’s family, reliant on his income from a private courier job, faced a devastating loss, leaving his pregnant wife and young children in a state of anguish.

The two sons of Daulat (33), who succumbed to his bullet injury at the hospital in Imphal, the 6-year-old and the 4-year-old clearly have no idea of the magnitude of what has happened to their family. Their mother, 2-month pregnant has been delirious hearing of her husband’s death. In her half-conscious state, her cried out for her deceased husband asking him who will take care of the family?

“Has he come back? Bring him back to me? I need him to take care of our kids and also of the baby I’m carrying in my stomach,” cried Daulat’s grieving wife.

Amidst the grief, concerns arose over potential ethnic clashes between the Muslim and Meitei communities. Civil society organizations from both sides condemned the incident, urging for justice and restraint to prevent communal tensions from escalating.

Md. Jakaria, a research scholar at Manipur University, sought to quell communal tones, attributing the mayhem to an extortion-related issue involving armed miscreants. He emphasized the absence of underlying tension between the Muslim and Meitei communities.

The RPF, while regretting the civilian casualties, maintained their stance, asserting that the unfortunate incident occurred during their attempt to discipline the alleged drug lord, Md. Hassan. They claimed local intervention led to a defensive retaliation resulting in fatalities and injuries, expressing remorse for the outcome.

Monday’s firing, which could spark abrupt communal flare up, was proficiently handled by the N Biren Singh government to ease tension, with the sudden clamping of total curfew in all valley districts in addition to the his public statement appealing to remain calm. The timely intervention of civil society organisations into the incident is also a big force to subside the highly charged tension.

Meanwhile , Biren Singh , who visited the injured at the private Raj Mediciay here , questioned the rationality in inciting hatred and fighting among the people instead of unitedly facing those who are trying hard to break the state apart.

Reiterating his stance to come out strongly against anyone taking the law into their own hands, he said that the government will not remain silent and take actions against anyone taking the law into their own hands.

“These elements should be held responsible, if the government takes any stringent action including reimposition of the unwanted AFSPA,” added Biren, who also visited the victims’ families.

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