| Okram Ibobi Singh |
Imphal, March 20: Chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh today said a rifleman of Manipur Rifles, one of the accused in the murder of van driver Thokchom Kiran, had been suspended.
“One of the accused in the Kiran murder case is a rifleman of Manipur Rifles. He has been suspended and is in police custody. We will not spare anyone involved in the case,” Ibobi Singh said while inaugurating an SBI branch at Saitu in Senapati district today.
The rifleman, Md Salim, along with Md Sabir, both from Kiyamgei Muslim village in Imphal East district, had hired Kiran’s van on March 14 evening. The next morning they claimed that Kiran had gone missing after the three had dinner at the house of Md Rajauddin, a relative of Salim, at Komlakhong in Imphal West. Both Salim and Sabir were arrested the same day. Kiran’s body was recovered from a fish farm near Rajauddin’s house yesterday.
Ibobi Singh appealed for communal harmony to ease the mounting tension (between Meiteis and Muslims) following the recovery of the body. “It will not be civilised if Muslims are targeted for the sole reason that the culprits in the case belong to that community,” he said. Last night, he had assured the joint action committee of Thongju, Kiran’s village, that he would do everything to ensure punishment to the culprits.
Police said they have so far arrested four persons in connection with the case and were trying to arrest Rajauddin, the prime accused.
A mob attacked the houses of Salim and Sabir late last night. Their families had fled fearing backlash before the mob came. Rajauddin’s house was also torched yesterday.
Seven organisations from Kiyamgei and Thongju, which are divided by the Kongba river, met today at Kongba Irong bridge, which connects the two villages. The meeting was presided over by Md Kamaluddin, an elder from Kiyamgei. They resolved to maintain communal harmony in the area.
Very few Muslim traders and autorickshaw drivers went about their work here today, fearing backlash, as the road block at Singjamei along Imphal-Moreh highway continued for the second day.
The protesters also blocked traffic at Lamlong market in Imphal East today.
Armed police personnel were deployed at Muslim pockets in Imphal East.
However, there was no unwanted incident barring the attack on the three houses.
The Thongju joint action committee has sought life imprisonment or capital punishment for the murderers.