Express News Service

GUWAHATI: Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh on Friday tendered an apology to the family of Athuan Abonmai following public outrage over the killing of the prominent Naga leader.

Abonmai was abducted by a group of alleged rebels of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) from Tamenglong on Wednesday and hours later, his bludgeoned body was retrieved 7 km away.

The victim can be seen in a viral video being bundled into a jeep under the nose of some policemen. He had come out of his home to attend a government programme.

Singh, also the state’s Home Minister, is livid with the police inaction. He wondered if the morale of the police lowered to such a level.

“It was the duty of the policemen to intervene and save his life,” Singh told journalists at a press conference.

ALSO READ | Militants gun down Manipur Naga leader after abduction

So far, 16 policemen, including officers, have been suspended. The government has already ordered a probe which is headed by an Inspector General of Police.

Singh said the government would hand the case over to the National Investigation Agency if a nexus between the militants and the police was established.

In a complaint lodged with the police following the abduction, the victim’s son Arai Abonmai, had written: “…I have come to know from relatives that my father has been kidnapped at about 11:30 am by NSCN-IM cadres from Tamenglong headquarters, Pologround. As there is apprehension that my father may be harmed, I pray that immediate measures are taken to rescue him.”

For some reasons not known, Abonmai’s differences with the NSCN-IM grew in recent times. As he was facing a threat to his life, he had curtailed his movement.

He was the former president of Zeliangrong Baudi, which is a conglomerate of tribal organisations representing Inpui, Liangmei, Rongmei, and Zeme tribes from Manipur, Assam, and Nagaland.

Various organisations have demanded the immediate arrest of the perpetrators of the crime.