|Protesters stop a vehicle in Imphal on Thursday during the general strike against the killing of a motorist by a policeman for refusing to give right of way. (PTI)
Imphal/New Delhi, Oct. 21: A wary Ibobi Singh government swung into action today, arresting the police constable who had gunned down a relative of former Manipur chief minister Rajkumar Jaichandra Singh.
The state Criminal Investigation Department was also ordered to probe the incident.
The constable, a police driver identified as . Ibomcha Singh, yesterday shot dead R.K. Sanajaoba, the 41-year-old son of Jaichandra Singh's younger brother, from point blank range. The murder followed a scuffle during a traffic snarl in Wahengbam Leikai locality here yesterday morning.
The constable was the driver of the officer-in-charge of Patsoi police station, Joycee. He was travelling in the vehicle when the incident occurred.
The officer has also been withdrawn from active duty and is now attached to the office of the district superintendent of police. He has not been assigned any work.
A senior police official today said the constable was suspended and taken into custody after Sanajaoba's family filed a complaint with Imphal police station. A case of murder has been registered against him.
The constable, too, filed a complaint at the same police station, claiming that he had accidentally fired the shots while trying to control the situation after the victim tried to obstruct the police team.
Sources said chief minister Ibobi Singh, who met a delegation from Sanajaoba's family late last night, ordered prompt action against the personnel involved in the incident. Police said the family is likely to take away the body tomorrow.
A 24-hour general strike, observed to protest yesterday's shootout, passed off peacefully. Normal life came to a grinding halt in the valley districts, owing to the strike called by a newly-formed pressure group of Sagolband Bijoygovinda, the victim's locality. Inter-district and inter-state bus services were suspended today. Shops and marketplaces remained closed in most parts of the valley. Imphal city wore a deserted look.
But the bandh, which began at midnight last night, had little impact on the hill districts.
The Apunba Lup, the front of 32 organisations spearheading the current agitation against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, declared that such 'brutality' by security forces would jeopardise its ongoing talks with governor S.S. Sidhu.
Union home minister Shivraj Patil today confirmed that the forum's representatives were likely to hold talks with the Centre early next month.
Patil indicated that initially he would leave the nitty-gritty to his team of officials. The home minister or Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would intervene at a later stage if 'difficulties' emerge during negotiations with officials, Patil added.
The Union minister said he and the Prime Minister were ready to talk to anyone, including representatives of the Apunba Lup, but had told state leaders mediating with the organisation that it would be more prudent to talk to central officials first.
Patil had met representatives of the Apunba Lup during his recent Manipur visit but they had walked out of the meeting, saying the talks had failed. Patil had, however, emphasised that he had not been looking at an immediate solution to emerge at the parleys that were, at best, an opportunity for the two sides to understand each other's viewpoints.