Gunmen mow down driver on Imphal-Jiribam line, two goods laden trucks torched
General strike/chakka bandh begin to protest killing
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, April 18 2013: Besides announcing a 48-hour general strike by a JAC to denounce the killing of a truck driver by unknown armed miscreants on the Imphal-Jiribam route last night, All Manipur Road Transport Drivers & Motor Workers' Union has declared observance of 24-hour Chakka Bandh.

Both the general strike and the chakka bandh have commenced from April 18 mid-night.

According to an informed source, driver Sorokhaibam Babu (44) s/o (L) Kesho of Samurou Awang Leikai succumbed to multiple bullet injuries after being attacked by the armed miscreants while two loaded trucks were burnt down at an isolated spot in between Charoi Pandong and K Senam village on National Highway-37 .

The said spot inspite of being located along the Imphal-Jiribam route falls under Senapati district and is about 45 kilometres from here.

It is said that at around 8.20 pm yesterday a cement-laden truck (MN04A/7718) coming from Jiribam side was set ablaze by the unknown miscreants.

Wife of the slain driver breaks down and the road at Samurou bazar blocked to decry the killing
Wife of the slain driver breaks down and the road at Samurou bazar blocked to decry the killing

Moments after the first incident, another truck (MN04A/3991) loaded with FCI rice from Jiribam side arrived at the spot leading to the unknown heavily armed persons attired in combat uniform stopping the same.

The armed persons, who reportedly came in one Maruti car and a Maruti van, stopped the second truck and asking the truck occupants to switch off the lights opened indiscriminate firing resulting in Babu hit with a number of bullets in the left thigh and right calf areas.

According to Babu's assistant namely Lalhakthang (27), who is from Bongkol in Mizoram and brother in-law of the deceased Babu, the rice was loaded at Jiribam on Saturday and joined other vehicles escorted by security towards their journey here but had to stop plying as the truck developed technical problem.

After repairing the truck with spare parts purchased from Jiribam, both babu and Lalhakthang resumed the journey yesterday.

As Lalhakthang speaks neither Manipuri nor Hindi, his elder sister namely Santi, married to Babu, translated his narration to media persons today.

According to the survivor, a truck was seen burning by the roadside last night, with Babu insisting they drive on before being chased and confronted by the armed persons shortly afterwards.

Moments after they were separated and questioned by the unknown persons, Lalhakthang said he heard burst of gunfire, instinctively jumped into a ditch and remained there for a long time.

Conveying that the questioning was more intense against Babu as he (Lalhakthang) was unfamiliar with the language used by the armed persons, the assistant driver said he came out of hiding on seeing arrival of security force personnel at the scene by which time his brother-in-law was already dead.

The security forces are said to be personnel of 86 CRPF, 10 Assam Rifles and Manipur police.

Lalhakthang further maintained that he accompanied babu's corpse to RIMS morgue in a police vehicle this morning.

It is said that Mizoram native's ill-fated journey was his first as a truck assistant/helper while Babu, a frequent traveller on the Imphal-Jiribam route, was driving the truck (MN04A/3991) for the first time.

The truck owner has been identified as one Chirom Nabakumar from Mayang Imphal Thana Awang Leikai.

While Babu's body is being kept at RIMS morgue, a case has been registered at Sapermeina police station.

Meanwhile, All Manipur Road Transport Drivers' and Motor Workers' Union has announced 24-hour chakka bandh from the intervening night of April 18-19 .

Announcing the agitation while speaking to media persons at RIMS morgue today, Union's organising secretary M Anil said killing of a harmless individual (Babu) amounts to act of cowardice.

Expressing that had the attackers destroyed the entire load and the truck there would have been no misgivings, he strongly condemned killing of an innocent person.

Urging commercial vehicles to extend cooperation to the union's chakka bandh call, Anil informed that the agitation would not individuals or vehicles engaged in essential services, education and religious events.

Meanwhile, an emergency public meeting held today at Samurou Keithel (Bazar) in connection with the killing of Babu has resolved to constitute a Joint Action Committee (JAC) with the Committee consequently declaring imposition of a 48-hour general strike also from midnight (April 18) .

A statement issued this evening by the JAC convenor said the Government of Manipur would be held responsible for the death of Babu and demanded swift action to apprehend the culprits.

Further demanding that the Government for extend all possible assistance to the victim's family and seeking cooperation of civil society organisations in the JAC strike call, the convenor asked perpetrators of the crime to clarify why Babu had to pay such a heavy price.

In the meantime, two assistant drivers of the cement-laden truck, whose whereabouts initially remained unknown, have reportedly been traced to Noney.

It is said that assistant drivers Gaichamdin Kamei and Lovingson Kamei, both from Nungba in Tamenglong district, stayed back with the truck while the driver namely Oken went to purchase spare parts from Imphal when the incident occurred.

Joining the condemnation chorus against the killing of Babu, NH-53 Truck Owners' Association has announced immediate relief amount of Rs 25,000 to the victim's family.

Transporters and Drivers' Council, Manipur vehemently condemning the killing of Babu also drew attention of the State's Home Department to rein in anti-social elements along the highways.

Council president H Ranjit said TDC would extend Rs 50,000 assistance to the victim's family.

Senapati District Drivers' Welfare Union and Manipur Inter State Taxi Service Workers' Association also condemned the killing.

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