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Manipur CM’s house burgled

- Break-in at Ibobi’s thoubal residence despite Irb guards

Imphal, June 16: Burglars broke into the private residence of Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh at Athokpam in Thoubal district last week.

Police said Landhoni Devi, Ibobi Singh’s MLA wife, discovered the burglary when she visited the house yesterday afternoon. She had gone to her home constituency, Khangabok, to attend a function for distribution of prizes to meritorious students.

The three-storey building, about 26km from here, remains vacant most of the time as Ibobi Singh’s family members stay at the chief minister’s official residence at Babupara here.

The break-in took place despite the presence of 37 personnel of the 3rd India Reserve Battalion (IRB) to guard the house and its surroundings.

The police said forensic experts today took fingerprints and searched the house for evidence. They were tightlipped on the details of the case.

A police officer told The Telegraph that the burglars climbed the southern gate, which is “unguarded,” to enter the house through a two-and-a-half feet gap above the collapsible gate.

Sources said the burglars broke into the bedroom of Ibobi Singh and that of his son Kenedy Singh on the third floor. The police found the two rooms ransacked and household articles scattered on the floor. Bomb experts also searched the house for possible explosive materials.

“No one has been arrested so far. We are investigating the matter,” the police officer said.

The police, however, could not say when the burglary took place. Reporters were not allowed to enter the complex.

The police officer said that all the 37 IRB personnel were withdrawn and kept at the battalion headquarters located at Khangabok which is not very far from the chief minister’s house.

Another batch of 37 personnel of the same battalion replaced them.

The barracks of the personnel, next to the house of Ibobi Singh’s younger brother Okram Ibotomba, is located next to the chief minister’s house on the northern side of the complex.

Ibobi Singh and Landhoni visited their house this morning to check household items and assess police investigation.

The police registered a case and are interrogating IRB personnel who were withdrawn. Senior police officers said lapses on the part of the security guards could have led to the burglary and action was likely against them for dereliction of duty.

The police are investigating all angles, including possible involvement of some of the security guards.

There are two sentry towers — one at the northern gate and the other on the roof of the house. While a team was always stationed in front of the northern gate, the southern gate does not have any sentry post or guards.