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Two Meiteis hacked in fresh Manipur horror; CBI team rushed to Imphal | Latest News India | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker


A pair of lovers in Manipur, both Meiteis, eloped but ended up in an area controlled by the Kukis and, according to photographs that emerged late on Monday, after the state reinstated mobile internet, seem to have been murdered, the latest victims in a five-month long civil war-like situation that has roiled the northeastern state.

Students shout slogans during a protest against the killing of two missing students by unknown miscreants and the restoration of peace in India’s northeastern state of Manipur in Imphal on September 26, 2023, during ongoing ethnic violence in Manipur. (Photo by AFP)
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The last cellphone location of the two Meitei students was traced in Lamdan of Churachandpur district, police officers in Manipur aware of the matter said.

While the murder investigation has been transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Manipur police said their initial probe revealed that the missing 20-year-old man and 17-year-old girl may have eloped on July 6, but got trapped in an area dominated by the Kuki community while fleeing, after which they were allegedly abducted and murdered.

HT has seen a copy of the complaint filed by the girl’s father, in which he alleged his daughter had been abducted by Phijam Hemanjit Singh (20).

The police probe also revealed that a day after the two went missing, a new SIM card was inserted in the man’s mobile phone that was activated in Lamdan, a Kuki-dominated area, on July 7, a police officer said, asking not to be named. A Central Bureau of Investigation team led by special director Ajay Bhatnagar will visit Imphal on Wednesday to investigate the case, people aware of the matter said.

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On September 25, two days after the state government restored cellular internet services, photos of the couple surfaced on social media. One showed them sitting on the ground in what appears to be a forest with two armed men in the background, and another showed them apparently lying dead on the ground. The man’s head appeared to be missing in the photograph and the woman’s face is not visible. The two are wearing the same clothes as seen in the first photograph. Their faces are not visible in the second photograph. HT could not independently verify the authenticity of the photographs.

In the evening, the state government suspended mobile internet and data services through VPN for five days, merely three days after the ban was lifted. An order issued by joint secretary (home) Mayengbam Veto Singh (on behalf of governor Anusuiya Uikey) mentioned that the move was taken “in view of prevailing law and order situation in the state” and to prevent “spread of disinformation, false rumours and other types of violent activities through social media platforms”.

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Union home minister Amit Shah spoke with Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh about the case, a second official said, seeking anonymity. On Tuesday night, the family members of the girl met CM Biren Singh and other ministers of his cabinet.

“To further expedite this crucial investigation, a CBI director, along with a specialised team, will be arriving in Imphal tomorrow morning in a special flight. Their presence underscores the commitment of our authorities to swiftly resolve this matter,” Singh posted on X.

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Speaking to HT over the phone, the 17-year-old girl’s father said they have also been contacted by the CBI. “I have been assured that the CBI has got credible leads in the case. Police and CBI officers said my daughters’ phone was switched on once after she went missing. Then the user had signed in from Khopuibung area in Churachandpur. The user signed out from some WhatsApp groups that my daughter was part of. In the boy’s (Phijam Hemjit Singh) case, his phone was switched on and again switched off twice in two different parts of Churachandpur. We have been assured that the Kuki militants behind the murder will be arrested soon,” he said.

On Tuesday, school students held protests in Imphal against the killing and abduction, and police resorted to firing tear gas shells. The protesters accused Kuki groups of being involved in the murder. At least 25 students sustained injuries. Later in the evening, the state government announced closure of all schools until September 29.

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“The police probe indicated that the two eloped. The father filed a police complaint on July 8. The girl was last seen by her teacher at the coaching institute. CCTV footage showed her with Singh on a motorcycle near the institute. Given the father’s statement, their phone location in Lamdan, and the photographs that have surfaced, it appears the two were trapped in a Kuki area, where they may have been abducted and later murdered,” the first officer said.

“Their phones were switched on one final time in Lamdan area, after which they remained switched off,” he added. “Singh’s father had said that his son was wearing the same clothes as seen in the photo, on the day he went missing.”

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All case documents, including call data records of the two missing students and their last location, were handed to the CBI, the officer said.

A Manipur Police report — which HT has seen — said that the man and the girl were seen on July 6 being pushed inside a “four-wheeler vehicle jeep” around Laimaton. Quoting sources, the police report said that the two were kidnapped from Laimaton area, and the man was murdered on July 8 and the girl on July 11 by Kuki militants.

“Further, the source also revealed that their dead bodies were buried on July 12 , somewhere at Lukhrrabi Yumpham on the line of ethnic conflict,” the report, which was submitted to the CBI, said.

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The report said that on August 1, a police team tried to go to Lamdan but could not proceed because of militant groups. The police later identified the owner of the new SIM card inserted in the man’s mobile phone, but couldn’t proceed to Lamdan for further investigation because of “SoO group militants”.

The investigating officer said in the report that only an outside agency such as the CBI, which can probe cases across the country, can take on this case.

Late in the evening, tension gripped Imphal as mobs gathered in several parts of the city. “There were protests and rallies by students in connection with the viral photos of dead bodies of two missing students. Security forces used minimum forces to disperse the congregation and fired some tear gas shells in which some people got injured,” a Manipur Police statement said.

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Clashes in Manipur first broke out on May 3 in Churachandpur town after tribal groups called for protests against a proposed tweak to the state’s reservation matrix, granting scheduled tribe (ST) status to the Meitei community.

Violence quickly engulfed the state where ethnic fault lines run deep, displacing tens of thousands of people who fled burning homes and neighbourhoods into jungles, often across state borders. The clashes have virtually partitioned the state between the dominant Meitei community that lives in the plains and constitutes 53% of the state’s population, and the tribal Kuki group, which lives in the hill districts and makes up 16% of the state. At least 175 people have died and another 50,000 displaced.

“It is unfortunate. Be it Meitei or Kuki-Zo, both sides have suffered high casualties. Violence should be condemned,” said Ginza Vualzong, spokesperson of the Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum, an umbrella body of tribal groups. “The government should announce President’s rule to save lives in Manipur.”

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