The Kom community in Manipur declined to take possession of the body of the murdered Indian Army soldier until its demands were accepted, following which the BJP-led government ordered a high-level inquiry into the abduction and killing and offered help to his family.
The agreement was reached on Monday at a meeting between chief minister N. Biren Singh and a four-member delegation from the Kom Union Manipur (KUM), the apex body of the minority indigenous Kom tribe in the state.
The murdered soldier, Sepoy Serto Thangthang Kom, 41, had been on leave from September 3 and was to resume duty on Sunday. He was abducted at gunpoint from his home in Imphal West district on Saturday morning. His body was recovered on Sunday morning in the adjoining Imphal East district.
The Kom community had decided not to take possession of the body until the government accepted its demands, KUM president Serto Ahao Kom told The Telegraph.
The KUM staged sit-in protests in areas inhabited by the community, such as Chandel, Churachandpur, Kakching and Kangpokpi from 9am. In Imphal, it was held from noon to 3.30pm, Kom said.
Around 11.30am, the KUM delegation met the chief minister and submitted a memorandum praying for justice for the sepoy.
In the memorandum to the chief minister, the KUM wanted “to know the reasons why he was executed in this manner”. It also sought justice to be “delivered to his family, in particular, and the Kom people, in general”.
“Besides, we would not claim his dead body until and unless the reason and the organisations/ persons who committed the heinous crime are brought to justice," the memorandum stated, seeking prompt action on their demands.
Strongly condemning the “heinous act committed on an innocent man”, Serto Ahao Kom said on Monday evening that the organisation had reached an agreement with the chief minister in the afternoon.
“The CM has agreed to a high-level inquiry to be led by an IGP-rank officer, a government job for the next of kin of the deceased, adequate security in areas inhabited by minority tribes and Rs 5 lakh ex gratia to the family of the deceased,” Kom said.
Sepoy Serto Thangthang Kom is survived by his wife, son and daughter.
On Monday evening, the Manipur home department instituted a one-man inquiry commission to ascertain the facts and circumstances leading to the death of the sepoy and submit its report with recommendations, if any, to the government within a month. Themthing Ngashangva, IGP(Zone-1), Manipur, will conduct the inquiry. The home department reports to the chief minister.
The KUM president said the soldier's body would be taken to his native village in Chandel district for the last rites to be performed on Tuesday in line with Christian traditions.
Serto Ahao Kom had told the media on Sunday that the community was not siding with anyone in the ongoing unrest that has mostly pitted Kukis and Meiteis against each other.