Imphal, Oct. 20: Three engineers of the Manipur public health engineering (PHE) department were taken hostage by the Kuki Revolutionary Army eight days ago, but their whereabouts still remain unknown.
The Kuki outfit has allegedly demanded Rs 1 crore from the PHE as ransom for their safe release. The PHE has not formally approached police as they fear for the officials’ safety.
Executive engineer Laishram Ibomcha Singh, assistant engineer Okram Meino Singh and section officer Ningombam Upendro were taken hostage by the militants, their colleagues said today.
The three engineers, posted at the PHE’s Imphal East division, were visiting Nongren area of the district on October 12 to inspect projects when the militants abducted them, sources said.
The abductions came to light after employees of the PHE, public works department and the irrigation and flood control department, led by their departmental heads, staged a sit-in demonstration in front of the PHE office from 10am to 4pm today demanding safe and unconditional release of the three officials.
They urged the Okram Ibobi Singh government to trace and rescue their abducted colleagues.
They were carrying placards which read: “Let the engineers work freely for development”, “Release the innocent engineers” and “Sit-in-protest against kidnap of three engineers”.
The PHE is yet to lodge a formal complaint with police.
“We have refrained from reporting the matter to the police fearing attacks on our colleagues, who are in the captivity of militants,” a PHE official explained. The police, however, have taken suo moto cognisance of the case.
“We have launched search operations and investigations are on to rescue the hostages,” a police officer said.
In a separate incident, a pressure group from Imphal East district has set tomorrow as the deadline for the state government to identify the killers of Santham Dhanajit, 21, Yumnam Inao Meitei, 21 and Huidrom Manaoton Meitei, 22.
Unidentified thugs gunned down the youths, residents of Yourabung under Lamlai police station, on Wednesday night. The police recovered their bodies on Thursday morning.
The convenor of the pressure group, L. Shyam, said if the government fails to identify and arrest the killers by tomorrow, a joint action committee, formed by residents of Yourabung, would intensify its agitation.
The JAC continued to block the Imphal-Ukhrul road for the third consecutive day, demanding punishment for the killers.