Chief Minister N Biren Singh said on Sunday that four people were arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation in connection with the kidnapping and killing of two Manipuri youths, and the government will ensure the maximum punishment for them.
The four, including the wife of the main accused, were taken “outside the state” by a special flight, Singh said.
The officials of the Chief Minister's Secretariat told the media that two girls, 11 and 9 years old, had been arrested in connection with this incident but were subsequently released. They're the daughters of the main accused.
The killing of the two youths - Phijam Hemanjit, a 20-year-old man and Hijam Linthoingambi a girl of 17 years of age - had gone missing on July 6. Photos of their bodies surfaced on September 25 leading to violent protests mainly by students.
“The CBI arrested four people from Henglep area of Churachandpur district for the murder of the two youths. They were outside the state by a special flight,” the chief minister told a press conference.
He, however, did not disclose where the four accused had been taken.
During the operation leading to their arrest, personnel of the Army, paramilitary forces such as BSF, CRPF and the state police played a major role, the chief minister said.
A team of CBI officials, led by the agency’s Special Director Ajay Bhatnagar, has reached Manipur and started investigating the killings on September 27.
The government will ensure the maximum punishment, including the death penalty, for them, Singh said.
"I’m pleased to share that some of the main culprits responsible for the abduction and murder of Phijam Hemanjit and Hijam Linthoingambi have been arrested from Churachandpur today.
"As the saying goes, one may abscond after committing the crime, but they cannot escape the long hands of the law. We are committed to ensuring maximum punishment, including capital punishment, for the heinous crime they have committed," the chief minister posted on X.
The two youths, a man and a girl, had gone missing on July 6. Photos of their bodies surfaced on September 25.
Following this, violent protests by students rocked the state capital on September 26 and 27. A mob tried to attack the ancestral house of the chief minister on the night of September 28, but security forces foiled the attempt.
Another mob also vandalised the deputy commissioner’s office in Imphal West district and torched two four-wheelers in the early hours of the same day.
Manipur Governor Anusuiya Uikey on September 29 visited the family members of the two slain youths.
More than 180 people lost their lives and several hundreds were injured since the ethnic clashes broke out in Manipur on May 3, after a 'Tribal Solidarity March' was organised in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community's demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.
Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur's population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley. Tribals -- Nagas and Kukis -- constitute little over 40 per cent and reside in the hill districts.