Imphal, Jan. 1: A cold-blooded murder marked the beginning of the New Year in Imphal East district of Manipur.
Two unidentified persons gunned down Chingsubam Akaba, architect of rejuvenated Manipur Peoples Party (MPP) and president of Meitei National Front, at the gate of his house at Khurai Soibamn Leikai shortly after midnight.
Akaba, who had just returned from a concert, had come out from his house to send his driver Ibohal Sharma home when two gunmen attacked him.
Police said the gunmen fired two shots at the 64-year-old leader from point blank range. One bullet passed through his neck while the second hit Akaba’s left arm.
He was rushed to Shija Hospitals, a private clinic here, where doctors declared him brought dead. The body was sent to the Regional Institute of Medical Science (RIMS) for autopsy.
Police recovered the case of a foreign-made gun from the site of the incident this morning.
No individual or organisation has so far claimed responsibility for the killing. Police said it would be too early to point a finger at any suspect. Akaba’s family members also could not provide any clue about the identity of the assailants or their motive.
The MPP, the oldest regional party, denounced the attack as a political assassination aimed at demoralising its leaders and workers.
“It is a pre-planned political assassination. The opponents of our party have been alarmed by the MPP wave and those behind the attack wanted to stop the party from gaining more popularity,” said former president of the party, Okram Joy Singh.
Akaba was the adviser of the MPP and former president of Meitei Erol Eyek Loinasilon Apunba Lup (Meelal), the organisation which set ablaze Manipur’s oldest library last year to pressure the Ibobi Singh government to replace the Bengali script with the Meitei one in primary school.
The party had gained considerable strength following the merger of two other regional parties, the Federal Party of Manipur and Democratic Revolutionary Peoples Party.
Akaba had played a major role in bringing the three parties together.
Many political leaders, including former chief minister Radhabinod Koijam and former Union minister of state Th. Chaoba Singh, visited the RIMS. Akaba’s body was later taken to the party office, where activists paid their last respects to the leader. From there it was taken to his house.
Meelal has called a 24-hour Manipur bandh from 5 am tomorrow in protest against the killing. President of the organisation Ng. Yumjao said the organisation would launch an agitation if the assailants failed to accept responsibility for the killing within five days.