The police have filed a first information report against people “suspected to be members of” radical Meitei groups Arambai Tenggol and Meitei Leepun, among others, for allegedly abducting Kuki-Zos.

On November 7, five Kuki-Zo people, including two women, were allegedly “forcibly taken away” by a Meitei mob near Kangchup Chingkhong village checkpost in the presence of the police and central security forces. They were travelling towards L Phaijang village for a wedding function.

Police officials told Scroll on November 9 that they had found the bodies of two of the abducted persons – a woman and a man. Two others remain missing. The fifth member of the group, the 65-year-old father of an Indian Army soldier, had been rescued by security forces on the day of the abduction and was seriously injured. He was airlifted to a military base hospital in Guwahati.

Manipur has been reeling under ethnic clashes between the Kuki and Meitei communities. Over 200 people have been killed since the conflict broke out in early May. Nearly 60,000 persons have been forced to flee their homes.

The FIR was lodged on a complaint by a family member of one of the abducted Kuki-Zos.

In his complaint on November 14, the son of one of the abducted persons said that after reading the description of the dead bodies, he believed that the woman who died was his mother. Since they have been unable to get any information about the two others, they likely were “also brutally murdered by the Meitei militant mob”, the person said.

He also said that the Arambai Tenggol, led by a person identified as Korounganba Khuman, and supported by some insurgent groups in the Imphal valley had been “terrorising Kuki-Zomi-Mizo-Hmar tribal inhabitants of the hill districts”.

The Meiteis dominate the Imphal valley. The Kukis are in a majority in the state’s hill districts.

“It is clear that my innocent mother along with her travelling companions were targeted, abducted and killed only because they belonged to the tribal community [Kuki-Zomi-Mizo-Hmar] classified as a Scheduled Tribe under the Indian Constitution who were subjected to a gross human rights violation of ethnic cleansing by the dominant Meitei community,” he stated.

Accusing Arambai Tenggol, Meitei Leepun, a community of Meitei women called Meira Paibis and valley-based insurgent groups of voluntarily causing grievous harm and also of possessing unauthorised firearms, he urged the authorities to invoke appropriate sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

Earlier, the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum, a civil society group representing Kukis, had also accused Arambai Tenggol of abducting the Kuki-Zos.

On November 9, Sanjoy Meitei, the officer in charge of the Lamsang Police Station, had told Scroll that the police in Imphal West district found the body of the missing Kuki-Zo woman at the Atom Khuman village, which is 8 kms from Kangchup Chingkhong.

“The woman had a bullet injury on her head,” Sanjoy Meitei said. “The woman is suspected to be a Kuki. The body is at the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences, Imphal mortuary for conducting postmortem. We have registered a case on charges of murder.”

The body of the Kuki man was found at the Takhok Mapal Makha Puruksoubi Loukon Palli area in Imphal East.

“The body has three bullet injuries marked in his chest and one in his head,” said Inspector Poujeanlung Panmei, the officer in charge of the Irilbung Police Station.

Panmei added that a case has been registered against unknown persons under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (murder) and provisions of the Arms Act.

Also read: Armed gangs and a partisan state: How Manipur slipped into civil war