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Manipur youths under scanner

Gaikhangam

Imphal, July 21: Several youths from Manipur’s Thoubal district are under police and intelligence scanner after a report claimed that they had been “recruited” by al-Qaida.

State police and intelligence agencies started the surveillance activities after a Delhi-based monthly news magazine carried a report that al-Qaida recruited 17 youths from Lilong, one of the biggest minority dominated areas in Thoubal district, recently.

The magazine also gave the names and addresses of the youths.

The report quoted a “highly confidential report” as the source of the story.

While the local police station found five of the youths and questioned them, they are trying to locate the remaining youths for questioning.

The issue of the alleged al-Qaida recruitment came up in the Assembly today with the NCP member, L. Ibomcha Singh, moved a call-attention motion seeking a “clear picture” of the matter from deputy chief minister Gaikhangam, who is also the home minister.

“The report is very serious. If it is true, it is a serious threat to state and national security. Has the government done anything to know authenticity of the report?” Ibomcha Singh asked.

Some years back, a militant group belonging to the minority community, Peoples United Liberation Front, was very active in Manipur but there was no report of anyone from the state joining the terror network.

“The police have interrogated and verified antecedents of five of the youths so far and no evidence of their involvement or association with the organisation was found. The police have not been able to find the rest of them as the names and addresses given in the report were not available at Lilong,” Gaikhangam told the House.

The deputy chief minister said five of them were back at their homes in Lilong.

“We should not take the media report as true without verification. At the same time, we should not dismiss the report as baseless. The state police are working seriously and actively to find out the truth. We are also trying to learn the source of the report,” Gaikhangam said.

He said the police were verifying whether the names and addresses given in the report of the remaining 12 youth were correct.

If correct, the police would verify the activities of these youths too.

Gaikhangam appealed to the members not to be alarmed by the report, as there was no prima facie evidence that it was true.

“Nevertheless, the police and intelligence agencies are always alert,” Gaikhangam said.


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