Imphal, Feb. 28: A gunman walked into a hair-cutting saloon in Imphal West at 9.30 this morning and shot a barber from point blank range, before fleeing the scene in a passing autorickshaw.
Suresh Thakur. 25, who hails from Chapra district in Bihar, died on the spot. He was working at the saloon, located at Ingudam Leirak on the outskirts of the city, for the past year.
Birender Thakur, another barber working at the saloon, told the police that the two of them were waiting for customers when a youth, about 25 years of age, walked in and said he wanted to have a hair-cut. I was sitting near the door. Then I heard a loud noise. I saw the youth walking away hurriedly and getting into a autorickshaw that was passing by. Thereafter, I saw Suresh lying on the ground in a pool of blood in the inner portion of the saloon, he added.
Birender, who joined the saloon only two weeks ago, said there was no threat from any one to him or the slain barber.
We came here to earn a living. We have not harmed anyone. Why should anyone target us? asked Rajender Kumar, another barber in the city.
Police have launched a search operation in the area, but no one has been arrested so far.
The incident has triggered panic among the barbers hailing from outside the state. However, the saloons in the city remained open.
In an unrelated incident, police shot dead two suspected cadres of the Kangleipak Communist Party (Military Council) in an encounter at Khurai here at 8.30 last night.
The two were identified as Asangbam Jadumani, 35, and Laishram Kenny, 32. A pistol and a Chinese hand grenade were recovered from them.
The superintendent of police, Imphal East, Th. Radheshyam Singh, today said the two militants were involved in attacks on Congress offices and were planning similar offensives on more offices of the party. He said a list of Congress offices located in the district headquarters and block levels were recovered from the slain militants. An AK-56 rifle and a pistol were also recovered from them.
In another encounter, a joint team of the Assam Rifles and police gunned down a suspected cadre of the Peoples United Liberation Front at Kairang in Imphal East at 7 last night. The cadre is yet to be identified. One 9mm pistol with live ammunition was recovered from him.
In another late night development, residents nabbed a person who claimed to be a KCP cadre after he attacked three persons with a dao at Top Awang Leikai in Imphal East.
The residents handed over the person, identified as Md Zahiya Khan, 27, a resident of Khabeisoi of Imphal East, to the police, sources said today.