The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hmar leader held in hills murder

May 13: A former vice-chairman of the North Cachar Hills Autonomous District Council has been arrested for suspected involvement in the murder of Assam veterinary minister G.C. Langthasa’s son Narmendu.

Thirtyone people have so far been rounded up for this killing and the murder of a Hmar leader on Monday.

The twin killings in Haflong, headquarters of the troubled North Cachar Hills, added a new dimension to the conflict between the Dimasa and Hmar communities. The administration clamped a 48-hour curfew and issued shoot-at-sight orders in the town immediately after the killings.

Police sources in Haflong said Vairem Siam, a Hmar leader and former vice-chairman of the district council, was in “preventive custody”. His bodyguard has also been detained.

Siam is suspected of masterminding the killing of Langthasa’s son after V. Liamjao Toulor, a Hmar leader and accountant in the district council, was gunned down in front of his office.

Members of the Langthasa family reportedly told the police that they were convinced of Siam’s complicity in Narmendu’s murder.

The funeral of Narmendu, who was a forester and the fourth of Langthasa’s five sons, took place this afternoon amid tight security. Toulor’s funeral was, however, postponed until tomorrow for security reasons.

Police officials were tight-lipped about the progress of the investigation into the killings in the light of the “sensitive nature” of the cases and the friction between the Hmar and Dimasa communities.

Langthasa is a high-profile leader of the Dimasas, while Siam commands respect in the Hmar community.

Security for Langthasa and his eldest son Purnendu, who is the chief executive councillor of the district council, has been upgraded. Other members of the family have also been provided guards.

A source said Langthasa had been “advised” to travel between Guwahati and Haflong only by train and avoid roads. The minister is on the hitlist of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) and the Hmar People’s Conference (Democratic).

Inspector-general of police (law and order) S.B. Kakoti and commissioner C.K. Sharma are in Haflong to oversee the security arrangements.

On the positive side, the Hmar Students’ Association has condemned the twin killings yesterday instead of blaming the Dima Halam Daoga or anybody from the Dimasa community for the incidents.

Lallawmthang, president of the association, said his organisation was keen to team up with Dimasa groups to restore normality in the district.

A Dimasa student, identified as Tunu Kemprai, had been beaten up in Mahur town following Toulor’s killing.

Dispur has alerted officials in all district headquarters to immediately identify individuals and vital installations likely to be targeted by militants and take adequate steps to protect them.

The police headquarters in Guwahati had recently asked all district superintendents of police to “strictly control access to the chief minister” during his tours within the state.

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