The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hostage kin squat on minister’s verandah

Imphal, Feb. 9: Family members and relatives of three abducted Manipur government officials stormed the private residence of food and civil supplies minister Yumkham Erabot Singh this evening, demanding their safe release.

The United Peoples Party of Kangleipak announced on February 5 that the three missing state food and civil supplies department officials were in its custody and being interrogated for “misappropriation” of rice meant for distribution to poor people.

S. Iboton Singh, the district supply officer of Imphal West, W. Deven Singh, district supply officer of Imphal East and Th. Bhumeshore Singh, district supply officer of Bishnupur, are missing since January 30.

About 100 protesters, including meira paibis (women activists), came to the residence of the minister around 4.30pm on several vehicles today and staged a sit-in at the verandah of the minister’s house. The minister was not present in his residence while the sit-in was being staged. The protesters condemned the state government for remaining “silent” on the abduction.

“The minister and the government should take the responsibility of securing the safe release of the officials,” a protester told reporters.

The family members and relatives of the officials, however, did not reveal much before the media, fearing the lives of the hostages. The outfit had warned the family members against spreading “false” information that the officials were abducted for ransom.

In a statement, the outfit said the three officials were safe in its custody and accused them of misappropriating rice. The outfit denied the charge by family members that it demanded Rs 1 crore.

Deven hails from Imphal East while Iboton and Bhumeshore are from Imphal West district. The protesters belong to the localities of the hostages.

Police said they were trying to rescue the hostages, but admitted that they could not locate their whereabouts.

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