Imphal, Manipur: The heart-wrenching disappearance and subsequent discovery of the bodies of two promising students from Manipur, 17-year-old Hijam Linthoingambi and 20-year-old Phijam Hemjit, have sent shockwaves across the nation. The tragic incident, which occurred in July 2023, has raised questions about the handling of the case and ignited calls for justice.
Linthoingambi, a bright and ambitious student with dreams of pursuing medicine, and Hemjit, another young Meitei student, went missing on July 6, 2023. Their mysterious disappearance left their families in anguish and fueled a desperate search by security agencies and local communities. For two agonizing months, their whereabouts remained unknown.
However, the situation took a grim turn when photographs of the two students surfaced on social media, days after internet services were restored in violence-ridden Manipur. The images, believed to have been taken on July 8, two days after the students vanished, depict the young souls sitting on the ground in what seems to be a forest, accompanied by two armed men. Tragically, another photo shows them lifeless on the ground, allegedly after being shot dead.
The families of the victims have been devastated by the ordeal. Kulajit Hijam, Linthoingambi’s father, spoke of his daughter’s academic excellence and her penchant for surprises, emphasizing that the government needs to act swiftly in bringing the perpetrators to justice.
In response to mounting public anger and grief, the Manipur Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) released a statement confirming the identities of the victims and acknowledging the gravity of the situation. The CMO declared that the case had been handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in accordance with the wishes of the people of Manipur.
The CBI, along with local police and central security agencies, has initiated investigations into the disappearance and the heinous crime that followed. The government vowed to ensure that justice prevails and to impose severe penalties on those found responsible for this horrifying act.
However, questions have been raised about the delay in the investigation, with some speculating on the involvement of armed groups. Kulajit Hijam expressed concerns about the government’s perceived reluctance to act swiftly when, in his view, the students might have been in the custody of certain armed groups with whom the government had a Suspension of Operation (SoO) agreement.
The case has also ignited discussions about ethnic tensions and insurgent groups in Manipur, particularly the Kuki insurgent groups that have signed the SoO agreement. Allegations of violence and violations of this agreement have added to the complexity of the situation.
As the investigation continues, Manipur finds itself at a critical juncture, with a grieving community demanding justice for the young lives that were tragically cut short. The nation watches closely, hoping for swift and decisive action that will bring closure to the families of Hijam Linthoingambi and Phijam Hemjit and restore faith in the justice system.