TODAY -

Buses torched, RAF kicks out drivers in distress
Source: Chronicle News Service

Imphal, July 25 2023: Suspected Kuki militants and locals in Sapermeina, Kangpokpi district on Tuesday set on fire two buses carrying Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel from Dimapur for deployment in Manipur to curb the violence.

Meanwhile, the drivers of the two buses were alleged kicked away by RAF personnel when they ran to the latter to save them.

One of the bus (MN 04 B-1476) was driven by Md Tomba, and the other bus (MN 05 C-0068) by Md Rashid.

Md Tomba was taken away by Kuki militants while Md Rashid is still missing.

Both of their buses were utilised by CRPF personnel deployed in Kangpokpi area.

A week ago, two drivers who went to ferry transport fuel were brutally thrashed and their vehicles, which belonged to Meitei, were also damaged by Kukis.

The CRPF personnel stood by and watch the incident happen but never took any action.

The two drivers ran to the police and informed them of the incident.

Kangpokpi police station retrieved the two buses and parked the same in the campus of Kangpokpi district police SP office.

According to a report, 10 companies of CRPF and RAF deployed by the centre to curb the violence in Manipur were being brought in from Dimapur to Imphal on Tuesday.

As the number of central paramilitary force was in excess compared to the allotted number of vehicles, the two buses were boarded by RAF personnel and driven towards Imphal.

While the buses were at Kangpokpi SP's office cam-us, the police personnel ad pasted white paper on the number plates.

When the buses reached Sapar-meina Bazar, the road was found blocked with boul ders.

A large crowd of protestors including women and armed Kuki militants halted the buses and made the RAF personnel alight from the same for checking.

The Crowd then turn on the two drivers and started thrashing them.

The drivers ran to the bus next to them and begged the RAF personnel on board to save them.

However, the personnel told the drivers to flee towards the hills and kicked them out the bus.

As the security personnel numbering over 1000 refused to save the drivers, one of the drivers, Md Tomba was taken away by the Kuki militants, while whereabouts of Md Rashid remain unknown till late evening.

The source continued that while the state government has claimed return of normalcy in the state and that the blockade along NH-2 lifted, the CRPF and RAF deployed by the centre to protect the life of the people and properties failed to protect even two drivers, when the total strength of the personnel at the time numbered over 1000 .

Instead of saving the drivers of the buses they were in, the RAF personnel choose to kick out the drivers.

As such, questions have been raised on whether the RAF personnel have been given separate set of orders for carrying out their duty in the hill and the valley.

Meanwhile, the drivers' community have stressed the need for examining the role of central paramilitary forces deployed in the state for curbing the violence.

The community also urged the government to step back from claiming restoration of normalcy in the state and assessing the incidents to understand the ground reality.

If the security forces cannot even protect the drivers of the buses they are travelling in, how the forces could be expected to protect the lives of the people, the community questioned.


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