Manipur chief minister N. Biren Singh on Friday publicly apologised for the police inaction leading to the abduction and gun down of Athuan Abonmai by unknown militant.
Athuan Abonmai was an influential tribal leader of Manipur. Abonmai, who had presided Zeliangrong Baudi (ZB), the top body of the Zeliangrong community was found dead with gunshot injuries at a stone-crushing unit.
Arai Abonmai, son of Athuan Abonmai in his FIR stated his father left home on September 22 to attend a community outreach programme of the government to bring equal development in both the hills and valley. The programme was held at Tamenglong polo ground.
The eyewitness said he was kidnapped by 20 armed persons suspected to be NSCN-IM.
N. Biren Singh said that 16 policemen including some jawans of Manipur Rifles were suspended as Abonmai was shot dead soon after he was whisked away by the unidentified gunmen from Tamenglong district headquarters on Wednesday and his bullet-riddled body was found on Thursday evening.
Talking to media persons on Friday, Singh said that after getting reports that the policemen were onlookers while Abonmai was being dragged out and bundled in a waiting jeep, I wondered how much the morale of the police had lowered to such an extent.
“Police must take swift action and save the life of Abonmai. We have suspended 16 police personnel including a few officers for dereliction of their duty,” said CM N. Biren Singh.
He said that Manipur Director General of Police L.M Khaute has constituted a high level committee headed by Radhashyam Singh, Inspector General of Police (Intelligence) while two other IG rank officials K. Kabib and Kamei Angam Romanus would be the members.
The Chief Minister said that his government would seek an NIA (National Investigation Agency,) investigation if there are reasonable grounds of doubt of nexus between some policemen and the terrorists were ascertained in the police inquiry.
Singh said : “As the Home Minister and head of the government, I expressed my sincere apology to the bereaved family and the people for the cowardly action of the murder of a popular public leader.”
Abonmai, the former president of Zeliangrong Baudi, a tribal-based local council in Tamenglong district and a leader of the Naga People’s Front (NPF), had been abducted at gunpoint on Wednesday when Chief Minister, accompanied by his ministerial colleagues, visited the hill district, bordering Assam and Nagaland, to inaugurate some projects as a part of the state’s ‘Go to Hills’ campaign.
According to the police officials, the tribal leader was reportedly abducted while he was on his way to attend the Chief Minister’s programme.