The Central Bureau of Investigation on Sunday arrested four persons in connection with the deaths of two Meitei students who had gone missing in July.
Those who have been arrested have been identified as Paominlun Haokip, S Malsawn Haokip, Lhingneichong Baite and Tinnuphing. All of them will be produced before a court in Guwahati designated to hear cases pertaining to the violence in Manipur.
Two minors who accompanied the arrested accused persons during their transit from Imphal to Guwahati have been handed over to the Kamrup Metro district child protection officer for their welfare and protection, the CBI said.
The two minors are a nine-year-old girl and a ten-year-old boy, a senior police official told Scroll.
Chief Minister N Biren Singh said that the accused persons were arrested in the Churachandpur district.
“As the saying goes, one may abscond after committing the crime, but they cannot escape the long hands of the law,” he said on X, formerly known as Twitter. “We are committed to ensuring maximum punishment, including capital punishment, for the heinous crime they have committed.”
The students who were allegedly murdered were Hijam Linthoingambi (17) and Phijam Hemjit (20), both residents of Imphal. They had gone missing on July 6, two months after ethnic clashes broke out in Manipur between the Meitei and the Kuki communities.
Over 200 people have been killed and nearly 60,000 persons have been forced to flee their homes due to the conflict.
Earlier this week, photos of Linthoingambi and Hemjit were shared widely on social media, after which the Imphal Police said they may have been killed by Kuki militants.
The inquiry was subsequently transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The police had earlier said that the whereabouts of the two were not known and their mobile phones were found to be switched off. Their last location had been traced to a tourist spot in the Churachandpur district.
In a status report submitted to the Supreme Court in August, the Manipur Police had said that the area where the alleged murder took place was not accessible due to heavy presence of armed Kuki militants. “..State investigating agency is handicapped in carrying the investigation of the case,” it had said.