Northeast

Gate set up by Assam Rifles on Tengnoupal-Sangshak road allegedly costs man’s life
A critically ill man died on Tengnoupal-Sangshak road as he could not access emergency treatment allegedly owing to the closure of the highway by a gate erected by the Assam Rifles personnel.

ByIFP Bureau

Updated on 14 Apr 2021, 3:50 pm

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Tension erupted on Monday night at Sita village in Tengnoupal district of Manipur after a critically ill person died as he could not get emergency treatment allegedly due to the closing of the gate on the highway by Assam Rifles personnel of Sita AR Outpost, sources said.

According to the sources, the man died without receiving medical attention in the village, which is located 18 km away from the district headquarters along Tengnoupal-Sangshak road.

Following the sudden health complications around 7pm Monday, the deceased named Lunkhomang Haokip, 50, son of late Onkhomang Haokip, was taken by his family and relatives for availing immediate medical treatment at the nearest health centre, said the daughter of the deceased, Veineihing.

“The AR blocking the highway and taking too long to open the gate led to the death of my father,” she alleged.

As the news spread, villagers came out from their houses onto the highway and heated commotions ensued between the AR personnel and villagers, which continued till late in the night around the periphery of the outpost, the sources said.

Later, a team of KSO-Tengnoupal reached the village to join the villagers. The Tengnoupal Police team also rushed to pacify the situation. The agitators who had formed a JAC finally agreed to hold a meeting with the police team and the meeting went on till past midnight without any immediate solution to the case.

On Tuesday morning, the JAC-enforced bandh within Tengnoupal Block that started at 5 am affected traffic flow on AH1 and other highways within the geographical area.

Narrating the incident, Daniel, a relative of the deceased said that like any other night, as the gate was locked, they had to take an uphill climb of roughly half a km till the entrance gate of the outpost to ask for the key.

“Upon reaching, the representatives asked the personnel present to open the gate for them as they were taking a critically ill person to hospital. However, the AR personnel, rather than opening the gate immediately, deliberately delayed their travel time by engaging with them with various questions and enquiries. They then asked them to drive up the vehicle carrying the sick person till the entrance so that they can verify the same,” he alleged, adding that all this while, the ill man was struggling for his life on the road and he subsequently breathed his last around 8:40 pm.

Daniel further said that the hillock in Sita that serves as the outpost for the AR currently is of historical importance as it has been a military base since the British era.

“Post-Independence, it continues to be a host to BSF, Raj Rifles, Gurkha Regiment and hordes of other battalions of the Indian Armed forces, including the present Assam Rifles. All who are posted here should know that and respect the fact that the village has been a good host to all of them. In all these years of the village land hosting armed forces, none had the audacity to install gates on the road and close them at night. Even when insurgency was at its peak, the road was kept open for travelers at all times. It is rather unfortunate that AR is resorting to such inhumane manner of human-monitoring by erecting such gates wherever their outposts are. Such is gross violation of our basic fundamental rights,” he contended. 

One Lalboi said, “It is strange that a villager has to register with the AR every time he/she moves out of the village and every time he/she returns home. This concentration camp-like mannerism must stop.”

While asserting that the AR personnel have many a time behaved like the whole area is under ‘Military rule’, he mounted pressure on the government to take initiatives to safeguard human rights.

Meanwhile, the bandh was temporarily relaxed for a while around noon, during which a meeting was held at the conference hall of Tengnoupal DC.

The meeting was chaired by SP-Tengnoupal in the presence of JAC members and AR representatives, including CO-20 AR, Tengnoupal. The meeting ended with an agreement that Assam Rifles will remove the gate in Sita village and those in other villages of the area, including the ones in Rilram Centre. Moreover, the post commander is to be transferred from the area as per the agreement reached.

Post meeting, the deceased’s mortal remains was laid to rest and the bandh called by JAC temporarily suspended from 2 pm onwards, until a meeting with the chief minister was scheduled in the next 48 hours to find an amicable long-lasting solution that would put into practice the agreements reached on Tuesday. It is said that the future course of action by the JAC depends on the outcome of the meeting sought with the CM.

Upon enquiring further from villagers of Sita and other neighbouring villages, it is learnt that gate installation has been practiced over the past decade not only in Sita but in other outposts like Rilram Centre among others as well. Due to it, community members of the area had been facing numerous issues regularly.

Lunkhomang’s death on Monday night only seemed to uncover a piece of the grim reality the villagers have been facing.

Meanwhile, the Assam Rifles PRO was unavailable for comments regarding the incident despite several attempts made by the Imphal Free Press to reach him, 

First published:13 Apr 2021, 4:07 pm

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IFP Bureau

IFP Bureau

IMPHAL, Manipur

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