Imphal, Sept. 18: The army act grants them special powers, but a posse of Assam Rifles personnel were rendered powerless when hundreds mobbed them during a search operation at a zila parishad candidate’s house in Manipur last night.
Around 11.30pm, the troops in civvies descended on Moulvi A. Rahaman’s house at Sangaiumham in Thoubal — chief minister Okram Obobi Singh’s district — to search the house for militants. The Assam Rifles team claimed to have information that militants had taken shelter in the house.
Rahaman’s supporters thought the team had come to pick up their leader. Enraged, they surrounded the soldiers, who tried to escape by firing a few rounds in the air but were soon overpowered.
Hearing gunshots, another Assam Rifles team that was patrolling the area drove towards Rahaman’s house, only to meet the same fate.
“The supporters of the candidate kept the personnel, about 20 of them, confined to a house near the candidate’s residence for nearly one-and-a-half hours. The mob also torched the Tata Sumo and the Maruti Gypsy in which the personnel had come to the candidate’s house,” a witness told the media today.
The protesters then pushed the Tata Sumo into the Thoubal river.
On receiving information about the incident, a police team, led by superintendent of police (in charge) Th. Radheshyam, rushed to the spot and rescued the Assam Rifles personnel.
The police this morning handed the damaged Gypsy to the paramilitary force. The Sumo had not been retrieved from the river until late in the evening.
The Assam Rifles spokesman, Col L.M. Pant, claimed he was unaware about any such incident. The paramilitary force did not file any complaint with the police either. Rahaman described the Assam Rifles’ attempt to search his house for militants as political “instigation”.
“The Assam Rifles came to my house at the behest of one of my rivals,” he said.
Rahaman did not name the candidate.
Zila parishad elections are slated for tomorrow in the four valley districts of Imphal West, Imphal East, Thoubal and Bishnupur and parts of Sadar Hills in Senapati district.
Last month, the police found 12 militants and a cache of arms and ammunition in the official residences of three MLAs and a former legislator of the ruling Congress in the state’s most heavily-guarded zone.
The morning raid on Babupara VIP Colony in Imphal East was not the first, but never before in the long history of insurgency in Manipur had militants, weapons, ammunition and incriminating documents been found in the residences of legislators.
The three sitting legislators whose quarters were raided are W. Brajabidhu Singh, K. Meghachandra Singh and K. Bijoy Singh. All three were home, as was their former colleague N. Sobhakiran Singh, when the police came calling.