Two men from the Kuki-Zomi community — one of whom was serving in the Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) – were killed in Manipur’s Kangpokpi district on Monday morning. The two men appeared to have been “ambushed by suspected insurgents”, said security sources.
The incident took place around 10.15 am west of Haraothel village, in an area where Kuki-Zomis are the dominant community.
The two deceased have been identified as Henminlen Vaiphei (35) and Thangminlun Hangshing (27). Vaiphei was serving in the 6th IRB and was posted in Leimakhong in Imphal West. He was not on duty at the time of the incident.
According to a security official, the two men were travelling in a car at the time of the incident. “Around 10.15 am, the nearest operating base heard some gunshots being fired. When the security forces reached the location, they found a vehicle riddled with bullets on one side and the bodies of two persons inside it,” said the official.
Following this incident, the Committee on Tribal Unity – a Kuki-Zomi organisation in Kangpokpi — held an emergency meeting and called a 48-hour shutdown, effective from 6 pm on November 22, in the district to further press its demand for a separate administration for Kuki-Zomi territories.
“The committee unanimously declares an emergency shutdown in Kangpokpi district to convey to the Union government that we are no longer safe under partisan government… If the repeated appeals of the Kuki-Zo community had been heard by the Union Home Ministry, a series of unfortunate incidents could have been avoided. The Union Home Ministry must take into account the continuous attacks; political separation is the only option left now,” read a statement by the organisation.
The two men were killed close to the location of another ambush on a vehicle that left three Kuki-Zomi men dead on September 12.
A week ago two abductions were reported — of two Meitei teenagers who have not yet been found, and of four Kuki-Zomi persons who were relatives of an Indian Army soldier — which further inflamed tension in the region.