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Monday, May 27, 2024

Govt vows ‘swift and decisive’ action after students beheaded in Indian state

Photos of the brutal murder of two students surfaced after an internet ban was lifted in Manipur

The government of Manipur, India has promised “swift and decisive action” regarding the brutal killing of two students earlier this year, after gruesome photos of their bodies emerged online, sparking outrage.

A 17-year-old girl and a 20-year-old man went missing on July 6, but the photos of their bodies did not appear until this week, after an internet ban that was imposed in the state, where ethnic violence has been raging since May, was lifted after more than 140 days.

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On Tuesday, protests broke out in several regions over the murder of the students. Fifty students were injured in Imphal as demonstrators clashed with police on the streets, The Times of India reported.

Amid the deteriorating law and order situation, the ban on internet services was re-imposed on Tuesday – this time for five days. The government also said that all schools would remain closed until Friday for security reasons.

Central agencies and local police have begun their investigations, the chief minister’s office said in a statement on Tuesday. A team of officials from the Central Bureau of Investigations will go to Imphal on Wednesday to investigate the kidnapping and killing, PTI news agency reports.

Photos of the gruesome incident started making the rounds on social media on Monday, a local source told RT. In one of the pictures, the victims can be seen sitting in a clearing. In another, the two are seen lying on the ground after apparently being shot dead. In the last photo, the man’s head was severed from his body.

Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh’s secretariat identified the victims as Phijam Hemjit, 20, and Hijam Linthoinggambi, 17, and said that they both belonged to the Meitei community and hailed from the capital, Imphal. According to the release, they went missing on July 6 and “remained untraced even as security agencies looked for them and locals took to the streets seeking their whereabouts.”

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The case has been handed over to India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the release further noted, “as per the wishes of the people of the state.

Their presence underscores the commitment of our authorities to swiftly resolve this matter,” Singh wrote in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

Promising “swift and decisive action,” the chief minister’s secretariat said the police and central security agencies are investigating the case and search operations are on to “nab those who murdered the two students.” The CM’s office also urged the public “to exercise restraint and let the authorities handle the investigation,” at a time when communal tensions are soaring in the state.

Around 200 people in Manipur have lost their lives and thousands are now in relief camps after their houses were burned amid simmering tensions between the Meitei people, a majority that lives in the Imphal Valley, and the Kuki tribal community from the surrounding hills.

The violence first broke out following a ‘tribal solidarity march’ organized to protest Meitei demands for special status under India’s constitution. A curfew is currently in place in the state.

Speaking to RT in August, the chief minister said both local and federal authorities are working around the clock to help restore order. He also pleaded with the communities affected by the violence to choose the path of “forgiving and forgetting” for peace return in the state.