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Minister’s child snatched

Imphal, Nov. 5: Suspected militants have abducted the seven-year-old daughter of Manipur minister Francis Ngajokpa for ransom, adding to the embarrassment of a government that is struggling to maintain even a semblance of law and order in the state.

The administration broke the news about the abduction today, nearly 24 hours after it took place. Chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh confirmed that the abductors had demanded “over Rs 10 lakh” in exchange for Lunglingla Elizabeth, whose father holds the general administration portfolio.

The minister’s daughter, who is a student of Class III at Little Flower School in the state capital, was whisked away by gunmen from outside the institution. A rescue operation has been launched.

Ibobi Singh said a caller who claimed to be a leader of the Kuki National Front (KNF) informed Ngajokpa’s family about the abduction and demanded money for the schoolgirl’s release. The chief minister said the whereabouts of the hostage had yet to be ascertained, but the administration was hopeful of rescuing her at the earliest. He ruled out negotiations with the abductors and sought help from the people in bringing the child back home safely.

Students of Little Flower School staged a sit-in demonstration at the gate of their institution. More demonstrations are likely tomorrow.

Sources said unidentified persons had attempted to abduct Ngajokpa’s son from the Lamphel locality, where his residence is located, sometime ago. Security arrangements for the minister and his family were strengthened after that failed abduction.

A Kuki militant group had taken the son of former chief minister and Rajya Sabha member Rishang Keishing hostage in December last year. Victor Keishing was freed after his father personally negotiated a deal with the abductors.

Ngajokpa’s daughter has been abducted at a time when the Ibobi Singh government is facing flak for its failure to rescue eight persons who were taken hostage by the banned Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL). The militant group claimed all eight captives were guilty of drug trafficking. The KYKL freed seven of them after pumping one bullet each into their legs. They were today admitted to Regional Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal.

The group announced yesterday that the eighth hostage would be given “capital punishment” for allegedly dealing in drugs. It is not known whether the hostage has already been killed.

The same group had abducted one of Manipur’s top bureaucrats, I.S. Laishram, for a vigilante trial two months ago. The militants freed him on September 7 after making him promise to take voluntary retirement from government service.

The KYKL had claimed to have evidence of the senior IAS officer taking bribes from some college teachers to upgrade their payscales to the UGC-recommended level.

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