JAC Against Mass Killing & Brutal Act at Lilong Chingjao formed. The meeting resolved to press the government to arrest the culprits within 48 hours and bring them to justice. RPF claims responsibility
The year 2024 kicked off on a tragic and violent tone in the ethnic strife-torn state of Manipur with reports of four deaths and 14 others sustaining bullet injuries after some unidentified armed men opened fire on a mob at Lilong Chingjao area in Thoubal district on January 1 night.
Fearing another communal violence, the state government cancelled its orders relaxing the curfew imposed on the valley districts of Thoubal, Imphal West and Imphal East with immediate effect on January 1 night. Political leaders, including chief minister N Biren Singh, issued video messages urging the people to remain calm and avoid spreading rumours. Appealing to maintain peace and tranquillity in the region, the CM promised strict action against the culprits. A horde of civil society organisation leaders also rushed to the spot to placate tense situation.
According to sources, some armed men in combat fatigues, who came in three Maruti Gypsy cars, barged into the residence of MD Hassan in Lilong Chingjao, Thoubal district at around 7 pm. Hassan was with his family when armed men entered his house. Seeing them through the CCTVs installed in his house, he fled the spot.
Speaking exclusively to The Frontier Manipur, Hassan’s wife Amilu Dibui @ Hanifa said the armed men asked her to produce her husband and reveal his whereabouts. She urged them to talk and resolve issues if any amicably but in vain. They started checking every room and ransacked them. They also thrashed their helper mercilessly, she said.
Hearing the cries in the family, locals rushed to protect the family. In the melee, the armed openned fire indiscriminately leaving four dead and 14 others injured, the sources added.
Meanwhile, a mass meeting was held at Lilong Chingjao. The meeting condemned the January 1 night incident that killed four civilians and injured 14 others. It lauded the prompt reactions from the political leaders to avoid further escalation of situations. It resolved to press the government to arrest the culprits within 48 hours and bring them to justice.
The meeting also lauded the role taken by the CSOs to stop rumourmongers deteriorating situation. It decided to constitute a committee under the title, “JAC Against Mass Killing & Brutal Act at Lilong Chingjao on January 1, 2024.
RPF owns incident
Expressing the deepest pain at the loss of lives at Lilong Chingjao, the proscribed militant group Revolutionary People’s Front (RPF) claimed that MD Hassan is a drug smuggler, who has been given warnings by the party. The Ill-fated incident took place when its STAFORCE (Special Task Force) team went to apprehend him, it added.
In a press statement issued by its assistant secretary Publicity Bangkim, the outfit said when the team was trying to whisk away Hassan, a huge crowd gathered and tried to snatch the weapons forcing the team to flee the spot by firing warning shots. The mob opened fire at the escaping STAFORCE members and set ablaze their three vehicles forcing them to retaliate in self-defense, it added.
Recalling 1998 Lilong incident in which one of its cadres lost his life, the outfit stated that following the incident, a “standing order” was given to its members to “defensive measures” if attacked. Condoling the deaths of the four individuals and sharing the pain of those injured, the outfit said an inquiry will be conducted to find out the cause of the incident.