New Delhi: A seven-year-old boy, his mother and a female neighbour were killed in Imphal West’s Iroisemba area on Sunday (June 4) evening, while the young boy was being taken to hospital after being hit by a bullet splinter at the Assam Rifles camp where his family was staying.
A mob set the ambulance carrying the child and his caretakers on fire, and all three of them burnt to death, The Indian Express reported. “All we could recover were some bones from inside the vehicle,” the newspaper quoted a senior police officer as saying. An FIR including sections related to murder was filed that night.
According to Scroll, seven-year-old Tongsing Hangsing and his family had moved into the Assam Rifles camp just a day before that. On Sunday, there was firing between Kuki and Meitei villages that are on either side of the camp, an officer told the publication. A bullet splinter from this firing hit Tongsing on the head, and another hit his mother’s hand.
While oxygen was administered to the child at the camp, he was critical and needed to be taken to hospital. Tongsing is the son of a Kuki father and Meitei mother. Given that the nearest hospital in Imphal was in a Meitei area, the decision was made that the child should be accompanied by his mother, Meena Hangsing, and another Meitei neighbour, Lydia Lourembam, Scroll reported.
The Assam Rifles personnel accompanied the ambulance and police convoy for as long as they could, before being stopped ‘Meira Paibis’ – a powerful vigilante group of Meitei women. The ambulance then continued under police protection. However, a rumour was spread “Kuki militants” were being evacuated, Scroll reported, and the convoy was attacked. A mob burnt down the convoy with the child, his mother and neighbour still inside.
“When we reached Iroisemba, we were stopped by a mob and totally surrounded. The driver and I were pulled out of the vehicle and taken to a club nearby. The police were outnumbered. They did not fire to disperse the crowd. It was around 6.30 pm. We were kept at a club for about two hours,” a male nurse in the convoy told The Indian Express.
Violence continues in the state after ethnic tensions first escalated on May 3. Firing between alleged ‘insurgents’ and security forces led to the death of a Border Security Force jawan on the night between June 5 and 6. Two soldiers of the Assam Rifles were also injured.
According to The Hindu, additional troops have been deployed in the state over the last 48 hours.