Imphal: A shocking incident of abduction and murder of an Indian Army soldier has shaken the state of Manipur. The soldier, Sepoy Serto Thangthang Kom, who was on leave, was kidnapped from his home in Tarung village of Imphal West district by three armed men on Saturday morning. His body was found with a bullet wound on his head in Khuningthek village of Imphal East district on Sunday morning.
Sepoy Kom, 41, was a member of the Defense Security Corps (DSC) platoon at Leimakhong Military Station in Kangpokpi district. He had returned home a few days ago to spend time with his family. He is survived by his wife, daughter, and son.
According to the police, the only eyewitness to the crime was Sepoy Kom’s 10-year-old son, who was working with his father in the verandah when the assailants barged into their house. The son told the police that the men pointed a gun at his father forced him into a white vehicle and drove away. The son also said that he did not recognize the men or their vehicle.
The police launched a massive search operation to trace Sepoy Kom, but could not find any clue until Sunday morning, when some villagers informed them about a dead body lying in Khuningthek village, about 14 km away from Tarung. The police reached the spot and identified the body as that of Sepoy Kom with the help of his brother and a relative, who had also joined the search.
The police said that Sepoy Kom had a single bullet injury on his head, which indicated that he was shot at close range. They said that they have registered a case of abduction and murder and are investigating the motive and identity of the killers. They said that they are also probing whether the incident had any connection with the ongoing ethnic conflict between the Meitei and Kuki-Zomi communities in Manipur.
Sepoy Kom belonged to the Kom tribe, a small tribal community mostly settled in the peripheral areas of Imphal Valley. The Koms are distinct from both the Meitei and Kuki-Zomi communities and have not been involved in any conflict with them.
The Army has condemned the brutal killing of Sepoy Kom and expressed its solidarity with his family. In a statement, the Army said that Sepoy Kom was a brave soldier who sacrificed his life at the hands of miscreants. It said that it had sent a team to assist the bereaved family in all possible ways. It also said that it would conduct the last rites of Sepoy Kom as per the wishes of his family.
The killing of Sepoy Kom has sparked outrage among the people of Manipur, who have demanded justice for him and his family. Many civil society groups and political parties have issued statements condemning the incident and urging the authorities to nab the culprits at the earliest. They have also appealed for peace and harmony among all communities in Manipur.