Unique ‘agreement’ to control tension over Manipur civilian killing

By Anwesha Bhaumik
Kolkata, June 7 (IANS)
The Assam Rifles has worked out an unique agreement with the Kuki civil society organisations and the Manipur police to control tension in Twilang area in Manipur’s Kangpokpi district where an unarmed villager was allegedly killed by a Assam Rifles Major and his accomplices on June 4.
Angry Kuki tribesmen had torched an Assam Rifles outpost there and burnt down two vehicles on Saturday after the local man was allegedly killed by the troops the night before.
The four-point agreement has been signed by the Assam Rifles sector commander Brigadier P.S. Arora, an ADG of Manipur police and Kuki Inpi leaders.
It said that police enquiry into the incident of killing will begin immediately, the Assam Rifles unit from the outpost will be removed, a functional police station with a strength of 40 cops will be set up in the area, and the family of the deceased person, Mangboilal Lhouvum, will be paid Rs 10 lakh as compensation.
The agreement said that Rs 1 lakh will be paid to Lhouvum’s family immediately.
Major Alok Sathe of the 44th Assam Rifles has already been taken into police custody after Lhouvum named him as the culprit responsible for shooting him just before he breathed his last.
Manipur’s leading human rights activist, Binalaxmi Nephram, has expressed consternation over the ‘agreement’.
“Can you pay your way through after committing a murder of an innocent villager? The compensation by Assam Rifles is tantamount to admission of the fact that the murder was committed by its officer and men,” said Nephram, the head of Manipur Gun Survivors Network which rehabilitates victims of violence.
On June 5, an angry mob of Kuki tribesmen had stormed the Gelnel outpost of the 44th battalion of Assam Rifles.
One Gypsy and one Tata pick-up vehicle of the force were burnt down by the mob, which demanded the arrest of Major Sathe.
The mob alleged that Major Sathe, Post Commander of the E Company of the 44th battalion of Assam Rifles, along with one rifleman named Amar and two others in civil dress were responsible for shooting dead Lhouvum at around 9 pm on June 4.
Kuki Inpi leaders said the villagers at Gelnel (Banglabung) were convinced that Lhouvum, a poor truck helper, was killed without any provocation by Sathe and his accomplices at Chalwa village.
They said the villagers were enraged when the local police said they could not arrest the Major and his men because they were covered by the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
Thangminlen Kipgen, General Secretary, Kuki Inpi of Kangpokpi district, said that the Assam Rifles had contended that it can only take action after an appropriate inquiry.
But the villagers wanted immediate action because they were convinced that Major Sathe was responsible for the ‘pre-meditated’ murder of the poor father of four children.

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