An Imphal court on Friday afternoon granted conditional bail to the five persons arrested with sophisticated arms and wearing Manipur police uniforms last Saturday.
However, one of the accused, Moirangthem Anand Singh, 45, was flown to New Delhi by NIA sleuths in a special IAF flight in the evening. Two senior police officers confirmed the development to The Telegraph. The four others have been released. Sources said Singh was re-arrested by the NIA.
Fresh protests erupted in several localities of Imphal on Friday night following the re-arrest of Singh. "Police are having to fire tear-gas shells and stunt bombs to disperse the crowd gathered in Keishampat, Singjamei and Kakwa in Imphal West district," an official said.
Massive protests and bandhs had been organised by Meitei women and others over the past three days demanding the release of the youths.
Rejecting the police’s prayer for judicial custody of the accused till October 6, the court of the special judge (NIA), Imphal East, said in its 25-page order that the investigation officer (IO) “cannot show strong prima facie case against all the accused persons for the commission of terrorist acts and prejudicial activities against the State attracting Section 16 UA(P) Act and Section 121A of the IPC as of now.... Hence, all the accused persons are hereby released on bail on their furnishing a PR bond of Rs 50,000 with one surety of like amount...”
Section 16 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act deals with punishment for terrorist acts while IPC Section 121A relates to conspiracy to wage war against the government.
The five arrested persons — identified as Moirangthem Anand Singh, 45, Athokpam Kajit, 39, Loukrakpam Michael Mangangcha, 30, Konthoujam Romojit Meitei, 28, and Keisham Johnson, 35 — were booked under multiple IPC Sections and also under the Arms Act and the Official Secrets Act.
The other conditions imposed by the special NIA court are that the accused will cooperate with the investigation, will make themselves available before the investigating authority, will not influence prosecution witnesses, and will not leave Manipur without its permission. The five were also directed to appear before the IO of the case every 15 days.
The court order noted that the five persons were arrested from Kongba Wangkhei road on Saturday. They were travelling in a Bolero that was intercepted for checking and were found “wearing camouflage dress”.
The search of the vehicle led to the recovery of an Insas rifle with four magazines and 78 live rounds, an SLR rifle having three magazines and 50 live rounds, two .303 rifles with one magazine each containing five live rounds.
The court mentioned that Moirangthem Anand Singh, who had been associated with rebel groups, had said during interrogation that he was given the Insas rifle by an "unknown" Meitei volunteer after he repaired it, the court order stated.