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Manipur youth held for murder, Minister-father under pressure to quit

Iboyaima Laithangbam

Holi joy ride on Imphal roads ends in violence

IMPHAL: Five youths, including Nongthongbam Ajay, son of Manipur Minister N. Biren, were arrested on Monday on the charge of murdering a youth. The weapon used in the crime, M-20 with six live rounds, and a jeep were recovered from them.

Under mounting public pressure, Mr. Biren, who is Minister for Sports, Irrigation and Flood Control and also government spokesman, is reported to have volunteered to tender his resignation.

On the murder, police sources said that on Sunday evening a quarrel arose between two groups of youth, who took out a joy ride during Holi festivities, as one of them, led by Nongthongbam Ajay, tried to overtake the other. At this, it was alleged, one of the youths pulled out a gun, licensed to Ajay, and shot dead Irom Rozer near the Tulihal airport.

After the incident, thousands of people from Wangkhei, from where the deceased hailed, took out a march to meet Chief Minister Okram Ibobi. But they were stopped on the way; only some representatives were allowed to meet him. Mr. Ibobi assured them that he would consider their suggestion that gun licences given to youth be cancelled.

Reacting to the demand for dismissal of Mr. Biren, he asked the delegation to accept Rozer's body, saying the Minister had himself offered to resign.

However, a spokesman of the marchers told journalists that they would not accept the body until Mr. Biren resigned. Thousands of women, in mourning dress, have launched a sit-in, demanding the death penalty to Ajay and the resignation of Mr. Biren, who, however, is not available for comments.

Making a statement in the Assembly on Monday, Mr. Ibobi said the youth was killed with the gun licensed to Ajay.

However, he did not make clear whether or not Mr. Biren had put in his papers. The Minister was not present in the House.

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