"My husband was abducted at gunpoint. Our son witnessed the abduction. When he saw the gun pointed at my husband, he hurriedly informed me. By the time I arrived on the scene, the vehicle had sped away," Somiwon Kom, the wife of the 41-year-old Indian Army jawan who was killed in Manipur's Imphal on the morning of Sunday, 17 September, told The Quint.
The jawan, who was on leave, was allegedly killed after being abducted by three unidentified people from his home in Neikanlong in violence-torn Manipur's Imphal West district, according to a defence ministry spokesperson.
The victim has been identified as Sepoy Serto Thangthang Kom.
The alleged abduction took place at 10 am, Kohima-based defence spokesperson, Amit Shukla, said in a media release. Kom was deployed at the Leimakhong Military Station, Manipur. He is survived by his wife Somiwon, his 12-year-old daughter, and a 10-year-old son.
How the Manipur Horror Unfolded
According to Somiwon, a group of unidentified miscreants forcefully entered their house, brandishing firearms.
"I didn't see it, but my son told me the vehicle is white in color. However, he couldn't recognise the registration number."Somiwon Kom
According to the son's statement to the defence spokesperson, "Three unidentified miscreants entered the home while the father-son duo were working on the porch."
They then pointed a pistol on his head – and "forced him into a white-coloured vehicle and drove away with him," he added.
Kom's body, allegedly killed with a single bullet to his head, was discovered at around 9.30 am the following day in Khuningthek village in Imphal East district. The site is around 20 km from his residence.
Kom's elder brother Reverend Pachung Serto Litan told The Wire, “He had one bullet in his head when we found his body lying on the street.” When asked if he knew who might have killed his brother, Litan said, “We don’t know who did this, but we suspect people from the valley.”
"We informed our neighbours, too. What was his fault? Whether he was on duty or on leave, he had no grudges with anyone," his wife added.
Kom is a member of the Kom community, to which famous boxer Mary Kom belongs.
In a statement post the jawan's death, the Committee for Tribal Union (COTU) demanded that the Government of India reimpose the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Imphal Valley. The statement said:
“Such barbaric acts perpetrated in broad daylight show how the armed Meitei miscreants are allowed to roam freely around Imphal Valley to carry out terror activities without hesitation, once again proving that Manipur is no longer a state run by a democratically elected government but is run by communal-minded autocratic rulers. As the state police failed to perform its duties in the Imphal valley, the reimposition of AFSPA in the valley would be the only way out for the Government of India to contain the armed Meiteis from carrying out such inhumane acts against innocent people."
(Borun Thokchom is an Indian filmmaker and journalist based in Imphal, Manipur.)