The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has directed the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to investigate the abduction and subsequent murder of a tribe council leader in Manipur’s Tamenglong district.
An order issued by Kshitish Kumar, Under Secretary to the Government of India, stated: “The central government is of the opinion that a scheduled offence under the NIA Act, 2008 has been committed and having regard to the gravity of the offence and to unearth the full conspiracy hatched by the accused, it is required to be investigated by NIA.”
Athuan Abonmai, was the former president of the Zeliangrong Baudi tribe council. On September 22, he was abducted by suspected militants from near the polo ground at the Tamenglong district headquarters only to be found dead hours later in a remote area.
The state Home Department had written the MHA on September 26 seeking an NIA probe in the “sensitive” case, explaining that the matter could possibly have inter-state ramifications owing to the involvement of suspected NSCN-IM cadres.
The abduction took place even as a government outreach programme was underway with Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh as the chief guest. Abonmai was reportedly on his way to take part in the programme. The incident drew much flak as it had taken place despite heavy security measures in the wake of the chief minister’s visit.
Singh later admitted lapses on the part of the police and apologised publicly. As many as 16 police personnel, including the officer in-charge, were suspended and both the Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent of Police of the district transferred in connection with the incident.