"The authorities killed him," Yumlembam Birohini, the mother of 20-year-old Phijam Hemjit, told The Quint days after photos showing the bodies of her son and another student Hijam Linthoingambi emerged on social media, leading to massive student protests in Manipur's Imphal.
"If they were willing, they could have rescued him. My son's phone was working, and his vehicle was used by them (the killers). But the authorities failed to take prompt action. So, it's clear that they are also involved in the crime. I am very unhappy with the authorities," she added.
Manipur's capital Imphal has been rocked by student-led protests after photos (dated 8 July) of the bodies of Hemjit and 17-year-old Hijam (both Meitei students) surfaced online. They had gone missing on 6 July and had remained untraced.
The viral photo purportedly shows the two students sitting on the ground, in what appears to be a forest, with two armed men in the background. Another photo shows them lying on the ground, presumably after they were shot dead.
'We Thought He Would Return'
"Since we didn't have any visual proof earlier, we thought he would return. With this viral photo, we want to perform his last rites, so we urge them to give his mortal remains," the grieving mother told The Quint.
In a statement released on X (formerly Twitter), Manipur CM N Biren Singh's office on Tuesday, 26 September, had confirmed the identity of the two students in the viral photos. "This case has already been handed over to the CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation] as per the wishes of the people of the state," the CMO had added.
On Wednesday, 27 September, the team of the CBI officials arrived in Imphal.
“In light of the distressing news that emerged yesterday regarding the tragic demise of the missing students, I want to assure the people of the state that both the state and Central government are closely working to nab the perpetrators."CM Biren Singh wrote on X
Mobile internet services, which had resumed just a few days ago, have been snapped again for five days. "Whoever was involved in the gruesome killing must be punished. I want to witness it," Birohini added.
Incidentally, this was also echoed by the father of Hijam Linthoingambi, the other student in the photos, during his conversation with The Quint.
"I may be right or wrong, but one thing I know is that the government has an SoO (Suspension of Operation) with Kuki militants," said Kulajit. "So, how can this government take so long to trace them when they know these kids are under their custody? Social media is tracing the victims, not the authorities," he added.
Watch more of what Kulajit said here:
The two friends are suspected to have been abducted by "Kuki armed miscreants," according to a status report submitted by the Manipur government in the Supreme Court last month.