Panic in Heirok over security visit

Imphal, Jan. 12: Heirok in Thoubal district is panic-stricken following a sudden visit by a security force team ' believed to be either from the army or the Assam Rifles ' yesterday to enquire about the seven youths who had alleged that they had been taken to an Assam Rifles post for fake surrender on the promise of jobs.

Purnima Devi of Heirok had taken the youths to 42 Assam Rifles post in Chandel district in two batches on December 29 and January 4 and had handed them over to her husband, Gambhir Singh, who is believed to be a surrendered militant and stays at the post.

Inside the post, the youths realised that it was a plan for a surrender and left the place after being forced to sign papers declaring that they were cadres of the Military Defence Force (Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup) by a person also suspected to be a surrendered militant.

Leaders of organisations in Heirok today said some armed persons dressed in army fatigues came to the village yesterday afternoon and enquired about the seven youths.

"The team came in three vehicles ' two Gypsys and a mini truck. One of the Gypsys had a plate with "deputy commandant" written on it. The officer leading the team said he was from the Naga Regiment and also sported an epaulet having the Naga Regiment emblem," Kh. Ibomcha, president of Peoples Organisation for Civil Integrity and Liberty, Heirok, said.

Ibomcha said khukris, the symbol of Assam Rifles, were painted on the three vehicles.

The team left Heirok after villagers gathered around them.

"We feel the visit is a threat. The entire village is intimidated. The government should create an atmosphere where the villagers feel safe and secure," Laishram Mandir, a spokesperson for the village, said.

He added that Heirok would cooperate with any inquiry carried out with prior information to the local police and villagers.

The Assam Rifles authorities said there was no Naga Regiment in Manipur and no unit or team of the Assam Rifles had visited Heirok yesterday.

An Imphal-based NGO, Women Action for Development, today urged the Centre and the state government to investigate the Heirok youths' case and punish those involved.

In another development, Human Rights Alert, Imphal and Extra-Judicial Execution Victim Families Association Manipur urged civil society groups, the state government and the public to extend full cooperation to the three-member inquiry commission constituted by the Supreme Court on January 4 to probe the first six of the 1,528 cases of alleged fake encounter killings in Manipur between 2007 and 2012.

The Supreme Court passed the order on the basis of two petitions filed by the Extra-Judicial Execution Victim Families Association Manipur and the Human Rights Alert, Imphal, seeking constitution of a special investigation team to probe the cases.

The commission, headed by former Supreme Court judge Santosh Hegde, will hold its hearing in Imphal but the dates are yet to be fixed.

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