Imphal, Sept. 5:
Tension grips Maram town today after a large number of people from the area protested in front of 34 Assam Rifles post at Maram demanding the release of a person arrested by the AR troops in connection with extortion for the armed group NSCN-IM, which is presently engaged in peace talks with the Government of India. During the protest, all vehicular movement along the National Highway has been put on halt and as per a report, around 50 loaded trucks and some other passenger vehicles coming towards Imphal are stranded at Mao gate.
According to Assam Rifles source, the person identified as Salew Hepuni (40), S/o Salew Mao of Songsong Village, Mao Gate is a member of the NSCN-IM and is in charge of extortion for the outfit at Mao gate. The source said that the arrested person had also confessed his activities and the AR recovered an extortion amount (Rs. 80,000) with slips.
However, local of Maram Village and the CSOs of Senapati district denied Assam Rifles’ claim and said that Hepuni, the person arrested by a team of 34 AR headed by one Major Arun at around 3 am today is a native of Songsong village and has been falsely accused as underground cadre. The CSO and locals alleged that the Assam Rifles team had snatched a sum of Rs. 50,000/- from one Rakuyop from Songsong village.
The arrested person has been taken at 34 AR Battalion at Maram from the Mao gate.
Till late hour the arrested person has been kept in the custody of 34 AR as tension remains high among the people who were staging protest demanding the release of the arrested person. The police team rushed to the site but could not control the protestors.
The protestors used placards demanding the immediate release of Salew Hepuni stating that he is an innocent man. Other placards with slogans such as “Assam Rifles Enemy’s of the Hill People” and “We demand Immediate Release of the Civilian” were also displayed by the protestor while blocking the road.