TODAY -

Killing of driver sparks protest, twin bandh called
Source: Hueiyen News Service

Imphal, April 18 2013: In addition to burning down two Imphal-bound goods laden trucks coming from Jiribam, the driver of one of the ill-fated truck was shot dead allegedly by suspected armed cadres of NSCN-IM while the handyman escaped with injuries at a spot in between Seijang and Charoi Pandongba along National Highway-37 (Imphal-Silchar Road) last night.

The deceased driver has been identified as Asem Babu (40), s/o late Thambal of Shamurou Awang Leikai.

Babu is survived by his wife Shanti, who is from Mizoram, and their 3-year old daughter.

Of the two ill-fated trucks, the one bearing registration no.MN04A-3991 belongs to Chirom Nabakumar of Mayang Imphal Radio Station Maning, while the other bearing registration number MN 04A-7718 belonged to Thokchom Prameshwar of Wangkhei Palace Compound.

The first truck was loaded with cement and rice while the other with cement only.

Denouncing the act of murder and arson, All Manipur Road Transport Drivers and Motor Works Union has announced a statewide general strike from April 18 midnight till April 19 midnight.



Womenfolk blocking road at Samurou
Womenfolk blocking road at Samurou


Meanwhile, the Joint Action Committee (JAC) constituted in connection with the killing of driver Sorokhaibam Babu Singh aged 40, a local of Samurou Awang Leikai in Imphal West district, has also called another 48-hour Manipur bandh beginning Thursday midnight.

Speaking to Hueiyen Lanpao, Shanti informed that the handyman identified as Lalngathang (27), a native of Bongkol bazaar in Mizoram, who escaped with injuries in the incident is her younger brother.

He came to Manipur to enjoy Yaoshang.

With exception to Mizo language, Lalngathang cannot speak or understand Manipuri or English or Hindi.

Translating the words of her brother, who witnessed the gory incident, into Manipuri, Shanti said that on that fateful day her husband was on the wheel of the truck which was normally driven by another driver.

Her brother too had gone along with her husband so that he could learn driving.

As the truck reached the spot where the incident took place around 7:30 pm yesterday, they saw another truck going up in flames.

Alongside the burning truck, a white Gypsy was also seen being parked.

As they went nearer the burning truck, 7 to 8 persons armed with AK 47 Rifles stopped them and dragged them down from the truck.

The armed cadres snatched their wallets and mobile phones and later took Asem Babu away from Lalngathang and began to interrogate him.

Later, the armed miscreants were trying to flee the spot after setting their truck on fire when one of the armed miscreants opened fire at them.



Babu and his family
Babu and his family


Lalngathang managed to jump down a cliff and hide himself there.

But after half an hour when all the armed miscreants have left the area, Lalngathang came up and found his brother-in- law lying dead in a pool of blood.

Not long after that, a team of AR personnel arrived and brought him and the body of Babu in their vehicle and reached Imphal early morning today, Shanti informed.

According to police report, the first truck which was already up in fire when Babu and his brother-in-law reached the spot, was parking there following a break down.

The driver of the truck identified as Huidrom Open of Kakching Khunnou had left the place for Imphal to get the required parts for repairing the truck while leaving it behind in the custody of the handyman whose name is Pellei Rongmei.

Pellei managed to escape and reached Noney bazaar from where he called up the driver to tell about the act of arson committed by armed miscreants.

Meanwhile, when the news of the killing spread this morning, angry residents of Samurou came out to block the National Highway-37 and barred all the vehicles coming along the highway section.

The JAC formed against the killing of Babu has also put forward various demands to the Manipur Government after a convening a public meeting at Samurou bazaar today.

The meeting resolved that the Government of Manipur should be held responsible for the killing of driver Babu and burning of two trucks.

It also decided to impose a 48-hour Manipur bandh beginning April 18 midnight.

Furthermore, the meeting demands that the killers/arsonists should clarify on the killing of Babu.

Furthermore, the meeting resolved to seek support from different NGOs as well as the people in the stir being launched by the JAC and that the body will not be claimed until the demands are fulfilled.

The corpse of Babu is presently lying at the mortuary of RIMS Hospital.

Condemning the killing of the driver and the burning down of the truck, All Manipur Bus Owners' Federation (AMBOF) and All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Manipur have endorsed the 48-hour general strike being called by All Manipur Road Transport Drivers' and Motor Workers' Union.

In separate statements, the two organisations have categorically stated that the State administration should be held responsibility of the incident as it was caused due to security loopholes along the NHs despite longstanding demands for ensuring protection along the highway and deployment of adequate security personnel.

Demanding arrest of the culprits, they have also pressed the Government for payment of necessary compensation to the next of kin of the deceased truck driver.


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