Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh on Friday publicly apologized for the police inaction leading to the abduction and gunning down a tribal leader.
The development comes after the widespread condemnation of the assassination of an influential tribal leader by unidentified militants of Athuan Abonmai.
Singh said 16 policemen including some troopers of Manipur Rifles have been suspended as Abonmai was shot dead soon after he was whisked away by gunmen from Tamenglong district headquarters on Wednesday.
His bullet-riddled body was found on Thursday evening.
Singh said, “After getting reports that the policemen were mere onlookers while Abonmai was being dragged out and bundled into a waiting jeep, I wondered how the morale of the police had lowered to such an extent.”
“Police should have taken swift action and saved the life of Abonmai. We have suspended 16 police personnel including a few officers for dereliction of duty,” said the CM.
He said that Manipur DGP L.M Khaute has constituted a high-level probe panel.
Singh said the government would seek National Investigation Agency (NIA) investigation if there are reasonable grounds of doubt of a nexus between some policemen and the terrorists.
Abonmai, the former president of Zeliangrong Baudi, a tribal-based local council in Tamenglong district and a leader of the Naga People’s Front (NPF), was abducted on Wednesday when the Chief Minister, accompanied by his ministerial colleagues, visited the hill district bordering Assam and Nagaland to inaugurate some projects as a part of the state’s ‘Go to Hills’ campaign.
According to the police officials, the tribal leader was reportedly abducted while he was on his way to attend the Chief Minister’s programme.
Local media reports said that 20 armed cadres of a hill-based extremist outfit kidnapped Abonmai near Pallong village.
Police are yet to ascertain the motive behind the incident with no militant group claiming responsibility for the abduction and killing of the tribal leader.
Many organisations condemned the incident and demanded an explanation from the perpetrators on the motive behind the assassination.