they suddenly heard a massive explosion and the bus went flying in the air and landed in a nearby paddy field.

Three passengers were killed at the blast site while four others, including a 13 year old girl, succumbed to their injuries after being admitted into nearby hospitals. The blast also left twenty-two others wounded.

RPF however blamed ‘enemy forces’ (i. e. security forces) for actually triggering the blast, alleging that it was done deliberately to cause civilian casualties. Lily Leima, assistant secretary of RPF’s Communication & Publicity in a statement e-mailed to the local press expressed heartfelt regret over the incident, and extended deep apologies to the public and the families of the dead and injured. It claimed the bomb was planted two days back by the outfit’s armed wing People’s Liberation Army. However, on Sunday morning two of the three activists involved in planting the bomb were caught by the ‘enemy’, it said claiming that though the location of the bomb was known from the captured activists, the enemy did not remove it, but deliberately triggered it targeting the ill-fated bus and causing multiple casualties. It said the RPF and its armed wing PLA considered the victims of the blast to be martyrs in the revolutionary movement, and rendered their revolutionary homage.

However, on the other hand, Director General of Police Manipur Yumnam Joykumar rejected the RPF’s charges. Regarding the allegation that the security forces arrested two of the outfit’s cadres prior to the explosion of the IED, the DGP, said, “We have not arrested PLA cadres on December 16 morning and neither has the Army nor the Assam Rifles.” The DGP also pointed out that such incidents might have been prevented if the people who witnessed the unusual activity had informed the police immediately, and made an earnest appeal to the public to inform the police immediately if they notice anything unusual taking place.

However alleging once again that the DGP is lying, RPF in another separate press statement which was issued on December 18 evening claimed that a team led by Imphal East district police OC Manihar and SI Khaba had already arrested two of their cadres Lance Corporal Nganba alias Haorangbam Kalamu Meitei of   Salankonjin and Lance Corporal Ibosana at Elangbam Jayentakumar of Hiyanglam Warakhong New Bazar on December 16.

Amidst this, the newly floated public body Joint Action Committee formed against Pourabi-Huidrom Bomb Blast urged the Manipuri outfit RPF to take a concrete decision not to kill civilians in future and put the same before the people while expressing dissatisfaction with the clarification made by the outfit with regard to the incident. Many organizations also condemned the bomb blast. Mortuary of RIMS hospital Lamphelpat where the post mortem of the eight deceased, including five females was conducted, was a scene of suppressed outrage and grief as hundreds of people, families, relatives and locals gathered there to receive the dead bodies on December 19.

Sobhapati Samom