Pamreiso Shimray/Ukhrul, June 13:
Irate mob torched two mini trucks including one of Assam Rifles after they were allegedly caught transporting illicit liquors on Thursday at Dungrei Junction in Ukhrul.
A group of volunteers under the aegis of Tangkhul frontal organisations intercepted a 407 vehicle (NL01A 3559) belonging to 16 Assam Rifles and a civilian DI truck (NL11 2305) ‘transporting a contraband liquors’ of approximately 2100 litres at Dungrei Junction.
On hearing the news of the liquor seizure from AR vehicle, a large crowd gathered at the site and turned restless. The Tangkhul bodies accused police for delayed response.
The angry mob then set ablaze the two trucks in the presence of police, a magistrate and AR official at Dungrei Junction. The incident turned controversial with the Assam Rifles asserting a different version of the story. An official source stated that the AR intercepted the civilian vehicle with the illicit liqours at Lambui check post and subsequently headed for Ukhrul town to hand over the seized item to police.
However, Tangkhul Katamnao Saklong (TKS) has alleged that the seizure was made by their volunteers at 3am on Thursday. As the volunteers were getting ready to transport the seized liquors to Ukhrul for destruction in public view, the body alleged that the AR personnel at Lambui check post forcibly intervened and loaded the entire seized item to their vehicle despite resistance from TKS volunteers.
On receiving the report, a team of TKS reportedly rushed to Lambui at about 7 am and sought explanation from the post commander. However, they could not get an audience with the AR official citing their non-availability and have to beat a retreat to Ukhrul.
An hour later, the Tangkhul bodies were tipped off that two vehicles were bound for Ukhrul. Subsequently, the volunteers lay in wait and seized them at Dungrei Junction at around 9:45am. Public unloaded and the contraband and in full public view.
A posse of police led by Ukhrul SDO Rita Leiyaphy rushed to the spot but failed to pacify the restless mob. The two mini trucks were torched even as the Superintendent of Police K. Kabib arrived with officials of 41 Assam Rifles.
Police informed that the contraband liquors were allegedly transported by one Awon of Hungpung village from Andro in Imphal East. The DI driver identified as Pahari Sharungpam from Huikap village near Yairipok and Awon are reportedly absconding.
The Tangkhul organisations alleged that the police failed to turn up on time which eventually angered the already restless crowd gathered at the side.
“Why Assam Rifles are transporting the illicit liquors in their service vehicle? This is a reason enough to state that they (AR) are involved in illegal trade,” alleged the Tangkhul bodies.
In Ukhrul town, the TKS has been launching anti-liquor drive intermittently and many seizures have so far been made. However, the campaign has failed to deter illegal liquor trade and consumption in the district which definitely calls for adopting introspective measures.
Meanwhile, PRO IGAR (S) has clarified that based on information of illegal transportation of war like stores, Shakpao post of Assam Rifles established a Vehicle Check Post near Lambui at 0600 AM on 13 Jun 2013. During the ensuing checking of vehicles, 1600 litres of country made liquor was found which was being carried in a Tata pickup truck bearing registration number NL-01 A3559. Four individuals identified as Mrs Awon r/o Luitang, Ukhrul (33), Pahari Singh (29) r/o Imphal and two unknown individuals from students union, Ukhrul were also apprehended.
However, the situation turned ugly when the Tata Pick Truck carrying liquor was moving towards Ukhrul Police Station along with Assam Rifles vehicles was overturned and burnt by unidentified miscreants near Jessami junction. The fire spread fast because of the liquor in the civil vehicle which was overturned and also to the Tata 407 vehicle of the Assam Rifles in which a small quantity of liquor was shifted for carriage. The vehicle was partial damaged before the fire was completely extinguished. Taking advantage of the situation, the miscreants also managed to release the apprehendees.
Commander 10 Sector AR along with SP, Ukhrul visited the location and brought the situation under control. The matter is being further investigated by the Police. Unconfirmed reports suggest hand of UG groups. It is noteworthy that there was a bandh on Imphal-Ukhrul highway yesterday based on diffrerneces between rival factions, the PRO (IGAR (S) added.