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NH 39 blockade over militant lynchings
Correspondent IMPHAL, DEC 23:
Published on 24 Dec. 2009 12:01 AM IST
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Fearing backlash after they thrashed two Kuki National Front (KNF-P) militants to death who indiscriminately fired and injured three village women during a meeting on Tuesday, the villagers of Nongbram village in Thoubal district are now taking shelter at the house of the circle MLA, Th Shyamkumar at Andro. The militants had reportedly threatened to take revenge. On the other hand, claiming that one of the two persons killed at Nongbram village was not a militant but their own member, residents of Keithelmanbi in Senapati district blocked traffic along the Imphal-Mao section of the NH-39 on Wednesday. Hundreds of vehicles including inter-state buses coming from Mao side were stranded midway before reaching Keithelmanbi, police reports said. The entire episode erupted when some militants said to be cadres of KNF-P fired gun shots indiscriminately to disperse a village meeting to discuss the issue of militants extorting money from the villagers in various forms such as ‘tax’. At least three women sustained bullet injuries during the firing. The three women namely, Mema, Memcha and Maloti were immediately hospitalized at RIMS Imphal. As the condition of one of the women became serious, she has been referred to Shija Hospital Wednesday. Enraged over the incident, villagers confronted the armed militants resulting in the death of two of them while others managed to escape. KNF-P is among the 18 Kuki based militants maintaining ceasefire with security forces under the tripartite Suspension of Operation (SoO). Fearing of revisit of the armed militants, the villagers left their village late Tuesday night and are now taking shelter at the house of the circle MLA, Th Shyamkumar at Andro. A meeting was also convened by the displaced villagers on Wednesday and later this afternoon and submitted a memorandum to the chief minister, O Ibobi appealing for security in view of the harassment which was likely to be meted out to them by the armed militants. Meanwhile, residents of Keithelmanbi in Senapati district imposed total blockade along the Imphal-Mao section of the NH-39 claiming that one of the slain men identified as Paotelal Chongloi (20) son of Chongkhothang Chongloi was a resident of Keithelmanbi and not a militant. The other slain man was identified as Paoshat Kipgen (23) son of P Lhunkhojang of Vengnom village of Senapati district. The sudden imposition of blockade forced hundreds of vehicles to be stranded midway on the stretch between Changoubung and Mao. As many as 120 oil tankers waiting for security escort at Mao could not proceed further as IRB personnel who left Imphal this morning to escort them could not cross the blockade area due to heavy pelting of stones by the protestors. Over 130 loaded trucks along with 20 inter-state buses heading towards Imphal with passengers from Dimapur side were also stranded at Changoubung before reaching Keithelmanbi, police report said. The status of the total blockade could not be ascertained as talks between the protestors and government under the initiative of the Kuki Students’ Organisation on Wednesday afternoon at the chief minister’s office did not yield any positive results. However, a source close to KSO said that another round of talks would be held later in the evening after chief minister, O. Ibobi Singh returned from attending the felicitation programme of Congress candidate. E. Surjaj on his victory to the by-election at Yaiskul Kendra, the result of which was declared Wednesday.

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