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Manipur Killing: CBI Arrests 'Mastermind' of Two Meitei Students' Deaths

The accused's father told The Quint that the charges against his son are "far from the truth and quite baseless."

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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has made a fifth arrest in the case of the deaths of two Meitei students in Manipur.

Details: A 22-year-old man was arrested by the special CBI team in Maharashtra's Pune on Friday, 13 October.

  • The accused has been identified as Paolunmang.

  • He is allegedly the "mastermind" in the reported abduction and murder of the two students.

  • A special court in Guwahati sent him to CBI custody till 16 October.

Paolunmang's father, who did not wish to be named, told The Quint that his son is being wrongly accused by the CBI. "He is an innocent boy without any knowledge of the alleged killing of the two Meitei youths. Accusing him of being the mastermind is far from the truth and quite baseless. He once volunteered to guard the frontline before leaving for Pune and was in frequent contact with his friend who happened to be the previously arrested KSO leader," he added.

Know more: On 1 October, the CBI had arrested two men, Paominlun Haokip and Smalsawm Haokip, and two women, Lhingneichong Baitekuki and Tinneilhing Henthang, in connection with the same case.

  • Extensive combing operations are currently underway in both the hills and valleys of Manipur, Manipur Security Advisor Kuldiep Singh said.

  • These operations have reportedly resulted in the recovery of a substantial cache of weaponry and items, including 27 firearms, 306 rounds of ammunition, 11 explosives, and 85 warlike items.

  • Additionally, a Maruti Gypsy and a Baleno car were seized during these operations, Singh said.

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Why it matters: Photos purportedly showing the bodies of the two Meitei students emerged online last month, sparking a fresh cycle of protests and violence in the already conflict-ridden state of Manipur.

Speaking to The Quint, Kulajit Hijam, the father of 17-year-old Hijam Linthoingambi who is one of the two students killed, said, "It is good that the government has caught the mastermind of the killing. But I am yet to receive the mortal remains of my daughter, for her last rites. I urge the agencies to not stop working until the mortal remains of my daughter, and of the boy, are found."

On the other hand, Paolunmang's father said that the police had contacted him after they arrested his son.

"I got the chance to speak to him for a few minutes. He is now in Guwahati and is being interrogated to reveal the place of the killing and the burial, but he doesn't have any answer to that. It pains me a lot. In this time of war, I don't know where will I go and what will I do to save my son. We are daily wage labourers, surviving on a meager income. I just place my hope in God, for my son's release."
Paolunmang's father, speaking to The Quint

In a nutshell: On 23 September, Manipur Chief Minister Biren Singh lifted the internet shutdown in the state. Soon after, photos of bodies of two Meitei students aged 17 and 20 years old was circulated online. They had been missing since 6 July.

  • This, in turn, sparked massive student-led protests in the state.

  • In response, the Manipur government re-imposed the internet shutdown across the state.

  • On the same day, the state's designation as a 'disturbed area' was extended under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), 1958.

  • Hundreds of agitating students and security forces clashed in Manipur's Imphal on 27 September.

  • Despite a full curfew being imposed in Imphal, a mob targeted CM Biren Singh's family home. However, security forces said they foiled the attempt.

Of note: The Manipur government recently cracked down on the circulation of violent content, even as critics warned that such an order could have wider ramifications. Read more here.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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