In a significant development, a special court in Guwahati has granted the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) a five-day custody of the four individuals arrested in connection with the investigation into the disappearance and suspected killing of two Manipuri students. The missing students, Phijam Hemanjit (20) and Hijam Linthoingambi (17), had gone missing on July 6, and distressing photos allegedly depicting their bodies emerged on September 25, triggering widespread protests, particularly among students.
On Sunday, the CBI apprehended two men, Paominlun Haokip and Smalsawm Haokip, along with two women, Lhingneichong Baitekuki and Tinneilhing Henthang, in relation to the cases registered on August 23. The special court in Guwahati, after reviewing the evidence, found sufficient grounds to grant the CBI custody of the accused for five days. The court further directed the district child welfare officer of Kamrup district to ensure the proper care of the two minor daughters of one of the accused, who were brought to Guwahati for safety reasons, PTI reported.
The accused individuals will appear before the court again on October 7. CBI sources reported that the agency took extensive measures during the arrests, deploying women officers and ensuring compliance with all legal formalities. The arrests were made based on complaints filed by the parents of the missing students, with the cases initially registered with Imphal Police and Lamphel Police on July 8 and July 19, respectively.
The gravity of the situation prompted a CBI team, led by Special Director Ajay Bhatnagar, to reach Manipur on September 27 to oversee and assist in the investigation following the circulation of the distressing photographs. The revelation led to violent protests in Manipur's capital, with incidents such as an attempted attack on the Chief Minister N Biren Singh's ancestral house on September 28 and vandalism at the deputy commissioner's office in Imphal West district.
This incident adds to the ongoing tensions in Manipur, with over 180 lives lost and several hundred people injured since ethnic clashes erupted on May 3. The clashes originated from a 'Tribal Solidarity March' organized in the hill districts in protest against the Meitei community's demand for Scheduled Tribe status. The Meiteis constitute the majority, approximately 53 percent, residing in the Imphal Valley, while Nagas and Kukis, collectively constituting just over 40 percent, reside in the hill districts.