India: Mother killed in front of son's eyes, another killed in police firing

24 July 2009

A day out shopping with her three year old son turned out to be fatal, for a young woman, as she was killed in a broad day light shoot-out in the heart of Imphal town today (23 July 2009) while a UG suspect was later killed in the shoot-out.

Incidentally, the shoot-out occurred at about 10.30 am, barely 30 minutes before the commencement of the Assembly session, not far from the Assembly complex. Five other individuals also sustained bullet injuries, two of them critically.

The woman killed has been identified as Mayanglambam ningol Thokchom ongbi Raveena (23) wife of Chinglensana of Lamdeng Khunou. Raveena's maternal home is at Thangmeiband Lourung Purel Leikai. Her husband Chinglensana is working as a telephone mechanic at a repairing centre at Majorkhul.

Raveena was coming to Khwairamband Market along with her three year old son for shopping, when the incident occurred. It is reported that she was five months pregnant.

She was hit by a bullet in the head.

It could not be ascertained whether the bullet was fired by the suspected UG cadre or the commandos. The UG suspect slain by commandos was one Chungkham Sanjiv (25) s/o Khelen of Khurai Sajor Leikai. Police claimed that one Mauser pistol of 9 mm calibre was recovered from Sanjiv. Another 9 mm pistol was also recovered from the entrance to the Gambhir Singh Shopping Arcade.

According to family members, Sanjiv was staying at JN Hospital as an attendant to his uncle (father's elder brother) who has been undergoing treatment there in addition to delivering meals to the patient. He left home for Khwairamband Keithel to buy medicines this morning. The family members also disclosed that Sanjiv was once arrested in 2003 for allegedly having links with a UG group. But these days Sanjiv had no relationship with any UG group, they contended.

The five persons who sustained bullet injuries are Wangkheirakpam Gitarani (40) w/o late Nongyaijao of Tendonyang (she sustained bullet injuries on chest and left leg), Golmei Mangal (59) s/o Lemba of Maha Kabui Namching, New Keithelmanbi (he sustained bullet injury on left arm), Ningthoujam Keshorani (43) w/o Raghumani of Naral Konjil (sustained bullet injury on left leg), Kangabam Subashchandra (40) s/o Shamungou of Kha-Potshangbam (injury on right ear) and Pangambam Lukhoi (30) s/o Pakchao of Heingang (he sustained bullet injury on chest).

The five persons who sustained bullet injuries are undergoing treatment in RIMS. Gitarani is stated to be in critical conditions. Gitarani was coming back from RIMS OPD after a medical examination when she was hit by a stray bullet. Lukhoi is an AR man posted under 9 Sector AR. Golmei Mangal is a taxation officer posted at Kangpokpi.Keshorani is a fruit-seller near the encounter spot.

Later this evening, a team of Ministers and MLAs led by Chief Minister O Ibobi visited the injured at RIMS. Talking to The Sangai Express, Additional SP AK Jhaljit said that there was heavy security deployment in and around Khwairamband Keithel in view of the ongoing Assembly session.

Moreover, all security personnel were also put on maximum alert following reports that UG elements have been delivering demand letters to shops of Khwairamband Keithel.

A team of commandos were frisking commuters on the thoroughfare connecting Paona Bazar and Thangal Bazar. As the commandos asked one individual to put up his hands in the air, one individual put up only his left hand and simultaneously drew out a gun with the right hand. As he opened fire, one woman who came for marketing was killed near the public toilet complex (Sulabh) in front of Laxmi Keithel. The commandos chased the individual who was running away firing all the while.

Some 25 minutes later, after some rounds of firing inside Maimu Pharmacy located just adjacent to Gambhir Singh Shopping Arcade, police brought out a dead man from inside the store.

At first, media persons were debarred from entering Maimu Pharmacy by Imphal West SSP L Kailun.

When this reporter rushed to the encounter site on receiving news of the shoot-out, all the roads of Imphal city were too congested as Ministers and MLAs were arriving for the Assembly session and there were Traffic Police and Police manning all the entry points of Khwairamband Keithel.

With people running helter skelter away from Khwairamband Keithel following the shoot-out, there was mad rush in traffic presenting a chaotic scene.

When this reporter approached the encounter site, BT road was totally deserted except for the police commandos and a handful of media persons. Vegetables and other articles left behind by the fled away vendors were observed on the empty footpaths which was otherwise always busy. All shops in the surrounding area had their shutters put down. Some police men were seen washing blood off a person wounded in the shoot-out in front of Rupmahal Theatre. At the same time, commandos were searching each and every shop of the area.

At around 11 am, a commando officer wielding a pistol came near the media team and said that one UG suspect was hiding somewhere in the surrounding area. In the next moment, sounds of gun shots were heard. On hearing the gun shots, both police men and media persons lie low behind a bullet-proof vehicle.

Although commandos staying near this reporter were not firing, they were seen taking positions and shouting amongst themselves through wireless sets. After about 2/3 minutes of firing, the commandos were heard communicating amongst themselves that one UG suspect has been shot dead. At the time of the shoot-out, Imphal West Additional SP AK Jhaljit was also present in the encounter site.

The media persons came to know the exact spot of the shoot-out after AK Jhaljit went inside Maimu Pharmacy, located just adjacent to Gambhir Singh Shopping Arcade.

After a few minutes, SP Imphal West L Kailun arrived at the spot. He went straight into Maimu Pharmacy. At that time, no media person went inside the pharmacy where the shoot-out took place. Soon police brought out a dead man wearing a black T-shirt and jean pants. Police also displayed one 9 mm pistol claiming that it was recovered from the slain individual.

Proprietor of Maimu Pharmacy Thoudam Chandrakumar said, "many customers were in my shop when the shoot-out broke out. One youth with an agitated look also came into the pharmacy. But we think he was also a customer. Shortly after, police commandos came to my drug store and started looking all around. My salesman and I lie down when we heard gun-shots inside the store", Chandrakumar said.

After the firing incident, police blocked all traffic on BT Road for about 2 hours. A search operation was also conducted in Gambhir Singh shopping mall. One Thangjam Ratna who used to sell chillie in front of Gambhir Singh shopping arcade said that a man collapsed over his goods on hearing the gunshots.

The Sangai Express