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Terror slur on Assam Rifles

Imphal, Feb. 21: The Assam Rifles deployed in Manipur has been sucked into another controversy with the Imphal bench of Gauhati High Court asking the director general of police A.K. Parashar to investigate allegations that troops of the paramilitary force were terrorising villagers in Chandel district.

A bench of the high court, comprising Justice K. Meruno and Justice U.B. Saha, in an order issued yesterday asked him to send an officer not below the rank of inspector-general of police to the village and find out the truth.

The order followed a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by chief of Tuyang village Limkhojam Haokip and secretary of village authority, Tonglet. In the PIL, they accused the Assam Rifles of beating up villagers without any reason, using them as labourers and preventing them from going to work inthe fields.

Tuyang is located in Khengjoy block under Chandel constituency, about 160 km from here. Security forces moved into the area to flush out militants in Decem-ber. The crackdown resulted in a gunbattle between the troops and militants, triggering an exodus of hundreds of villagers from the Khengjoy hill range near the Indo-Myanmar border. Many of the villagers are yet to return home.

The election authorities have made special arrangements for transportation of the displaced persons to the village to allow them to cast their votes at two special booths during the third and final phase of polling on Friday.

The petition also accused personnel of 16 Assam Rifles post located at Hollenjang village near Tuyang, of felling trees, leading to losses estimated to be around Rs 3 lakh.

“In the last week of January, many trees were mercilessly felled by 16 Assam Rifles personnel. Around 30 truckloads of timber worth Rs 3 lakh had been taken away by the Assam Rifles personnel,” the petition alleged.

Terming the allegations as “serious”, the high court has ordered the DGP to send the police officer to conduct an inquiry and the DGP to submit the findings of the probe.

The counsel for the petitioners, Rakesh Meihoubam, has been asked to produce the petitioners in court tomorrow. The counsel for Assam Rifles has been told to submit “necessary information” on the “actual happening” in the village.

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