Imphal: Large number of people, mostly the Kom tribes, on Monday staged widespread demonstrations against the killing of its community member, Serto Thangthang Kom, a soldier of the Indian army by armed miscreants.
The victim, Serto Thangthang Kom, who was on leave, was abducted by three miscreants from his Tarung Neikanlong residence in Imphal West district on Saturday morning, next day his bullet-riddled body was found at Khuningthek village in Imphal East district on Sunday.
The killing came amid the unceasing violence gripping Manipur, in the wake of the Kom Union Manipur (KUM) reiterating its call that they would remain as Kom tribe forever and urged people of its own community to remain neutral and not to involve in the ongoing Meitei – Chin Kuki violence.
The motive behind his killing is yet to be ascertained though the police have begun a probe to nab the perpetrators.
Chief minister N Biren Singh, on being called on at his official residence here by Kom community leaders and the bereaved family members on Monday, nodded to hold an inquiry into the matter, said Serto Ahao Kom, president of KUM.
The probe panel would be headed by an inspector general of the state police, he said, adding that the chief minister also assured to provide a suitable government job to the next of kin of the deceased.
“Thangthang’s killing was not just about killing an individual but about questions of human rights, values and ethos in general,” he said, adding that the incident has instilled fear among the Kom community in particular.”
He also urged the government to deploy adequate security in and around Kom villages.
Denouncing the killing, people from the Kom community staged a sit-in protest at various areas predominantly settled by the Kom tribes, including Sinam Kom , Sagang, Komkeirak and Loktak project.
“We strongly condemn the killing of Thangthang after being abducted in front of his little son while his wife was inside the house,” said Lalkhomang Serto, president of KOMREM Union (KU) a conglomerate of six small ethnic tribe groups, including Kom.
“Even if he had committed mistakes, he should be cautioned or given a chance for correction, but awarding capital punishment forthwith after abduction is too much,” Lalkhomang said.
While sharing the grief and sorrow inflicted by the family member, he demanded the government to take stringent action against the culprits according to the law of the land.
Thangthang was working in the Defence Service Corps at Leimakhong military station near Imphal after taking voluntary retirement as a soldier from the army, official sources said.
Kom tribe to which boxing icon and Olympic bronze medalist MC Mary Kom belongs is one of the 35 indigenous tribes of Manipur, and their population is around 35,000.
Recently Mary had urged Union home minister Amit Shah to protect the Kom tribes.
None of the Kom villages engaged in armed volunteering with bunkers because their settlements are dispersed between the two rivaling communities and in the periphery. There are always speculations and doubts against the Kom community from both sides, and “we are caught in the middle of all problems,” she said.
The Koms lead the population among Komrem, an umbrella body of six small sub-tribes, whose total population is around 45, 000, a miniature figure seeing from little over 28 lakh population of Manipur.
Besides Kom, the other Komrem tribes include Kharam, Chiru, Aimol, Koiren and Purum.