Imphal: The incident of a seven-year-old boy of mixed Kuki-Meitei parentage being burnt alive along with his mother and aunt are among the 20 cases handed over by the Manipur Police to the CBI, which has begun its probe into the ethnic clashes that erupted in the state on May 3, officials said.
The clashes broke out between Kukis and Meiteis after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status. More than 160 people have been killed and several hundreds injured in the violence.
The boy, Tonsing Hangsing, was killed when an ambulance being escorted by police was attacked by a mob and set ablaze in West Imphal district’s Iroisemba on June 4.
His mother and aunt — Meena Hangsing and Lydia Lourembam — were taking him to a hospital in the Manipur capital after he suffered a bullet injury in his head during a shootout. While the boy’s mother was from the Meitei community, his father was a Kuki.
Officials of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) have been handed over two FIRs — one filed by police at the Lamphel station and the other filed by the boy’s father — Joshua Hangsing — at the Kangpokpi police station.
The case at the Lamphel police station has been registered under sections pertaining to murder while the one at Kangpokpi has been registered under attempt to commit culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
Tonsing, with his mother and aunt, both Meitei Christians, were in the ambulance along with a driver and a nurse when the mob attacked them, officials said. The driver and nurse were allowed to escape while police personnel, who had fired in the air, had to retreat.
Members of the mob paid no heed to repeated pleas by the boy’s mother and aunt to let them go, and set the ambulance on fire with them inside the vehicle, the officials said.
Tonsing, who was staying at a relief camp like many others, was injured when a bullet ricocheted from an iron pillar, they said and added that the camp was attacked by a group of armed men from the “majority community” of the northeastern state. Following the incident, a senior army officer immediately got in touch with the Imphal superintendent of police to seek passage so that the boy can be taken to the hospital, the officials said. It was decided that only his mother and aunt would travel with him as they belonged to the “majority community”, they said.
The army handed them to the police escort and the ambulance at the border of Imphal but the convoy was accosted by a mob of around 2,000 people, the officials said.
In his complaint at the Kangpokpi police station, Joshua had said that on June 4, a Meitei mob of Meitei Leepun, Arambai Tenggol and Kangleipak Kanba Lup groups stopped the ambulance near Iroisemba and set it ablaze with people inside.
In its case at the Lamphel station, police acknowledged the presence of the Imphal West superintendent of police at the spot and mentioned that they fired in the air to disperse the mob comprising men and women. But the patient and the other two occupants were killed by the mob and later burnt along with the ambulance at Iroisemba, police said.
Among the 20 cases handed over to the CBI, is also that of a Metei woman who claimed that she was raped on May 3 by unidentified tribal Kuki leaders. Officials said it is a complex case as authorities of the village, where she claimed she was raped, have denied the allegations and issued a statement.
The woman had claimed that she had been sexually assaulted near Khumujamba in Churchandpur district on May 3, and an FIR was registered at the Bishnupur police station.
Village authorities, however, issued a statement debunking her claim and said that she once resided in Ngathal village under Churachandpur district with her family but had left the area with her husband five years ago as she had incurred huge debts. The family since then had not returned to the village, it said.