NH-53 route goes up in smoke as miscreants blow up bridge
One civilian 'hired' for sabotage killed, many others hurt, two still missing, tension running high at Tamenglong

Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, July 20: Dealing a crippling blow on the already beleaguered Chief Minister, suspected militants blew away the Irang Bridge over the Irang River at Tamenglong on NH-53 in the wee hours today.

The bridge was blown away barely 24 hours after the State Government escorted over 200 empty trucks from Imphal to Jiribam to fetch essential items from across the State.

The Government decided to this open route to traffic following the crippling indefinite economic blockade imposed on NH-39 since midnight of June 19 by the All Naga Students' Association, Manipur.

The bailey bridge located about 80 kms from Imphal was blown away from either side by the miscreants, said sources adding that one person suspected to have been involved in carrying out the blast died in the incident.

The deceased has been named as one Namthuirei Abomei (37) son of Kaitnomang Abomei of Tamenglong bazar, ward number IV.

Sources said he ran a workshop at Tamenglong bazar and was a mechanic by profession.

A number of persons reportedly injured in the bomb blast were rushed to Tamenglong district hospital and were later taken away.

Two brothers identified as Meiribou Abomei (35) and Paul Abomei (24) sons of Lampishin of Tamenglong ward number 4 are reported missing after the blast.

The police are yet to ascertain whether the sabotage was executed with the help of explosives or other devices such as gas wielding items.

When The Sangai Express contacted the DGP, AK Parashar, the police officer said that it would be premature to say that there were security lapses and explained that he was yet to get the details of the incident.

"I have not received detailed information from my officers," he maintained.

"Inspector General (Law and Order II) A Romenkumar and SP of Tamenglong police, Chownghuna have rushed to the spot" said the DGP adding that additional paramilitary force too have been deputed to the place.

Officials of 25 BRTF, which is responsible for roads and bridges on the Imphal to Barak stretch of NH-53, rushed to the spot to take stock of the situation.

Talking to The Sangai Express a well placed source said that a white coloured Gyspy was seen near the bridge yesterday at about 10 pm.

There were about 10 people inside the Gypsy, said the source adding that the men asked the villagers settled near the bridge to move away.

The villagers woke up to find the bridge blown away when they heard a loud report today at about 3 am, said the source further.

The white coloured Gypsy has been recovered and its registration number is MNO6L-0463, said the source and added that the owner has been identified as AS Romeo son of AS Sanii of Senapati.

As news of the sabotage on the highway spread a team of newsmen from Imphal rushed to Tamenglong rushed to the spot to take a first hand account of the incident.

On reaching the scene, the bridge was found blown away with the mangled steels and irons in the Irang river which is in spate.

Major portions of the bridge have been blown away.

As the bridge was blown away, communication on either side of the river has been completely snapped.

Reporters saw army personnel on either side of the river communicating through the wireless set as there was just no way to cross the river and exchange information, if any.

Army personnel on the side of Jiribam on searching the river banks recovered a torch light and a shoe.

As it was impossible to cross the river, the villagers could not be approached to get a first hand account of how the bridge was blown up.

Following the incident, security has been beefed up at Tamenglong and along NH-53 to avert any outbreak of further problems.

According to independent sources, as news of the blowing up of the bridge spread, tension gripped, Tamenglong district head quarters.

Sources said that the family members of Namthuirei Abomei (37) at first refused to take back the body on the ground that he was an innocent civilian whose services were used by the miscreants to blow up the bridge.

Some of the people who took part in blowing up the bridge were injured and a whole lot of medicines have been procured for their medical needs.

Two persons riding an unregistered motor cycle were held today along with a huge quantity of life saving drugs.

Another person carrying a Kenwood radio set was also apprehended while he going to the camp of a militant group, added sources.

An official Source said that tension is running high at Tamenglong and added that Army authorities are getting ready to get the components to lay a new bailey bridge over the same river at Leimakhong.

Meanwhile the DC of Tamenglong T Pamei has been touring NH-53 to over see the repairing work taken up there and he has been urging the local people to desist from violence.

As news of sabotage began to sink in at Imphal, many buses which were set to go to Jiribam had to cancel their service for the day inconveniencing the pas sengers no end.

Efforts to contact the Chief Minister and other Ministers concerned to inquire what steps the Government is mulling over, following the latest development drew blank, with none available for comments.

The second lifeline of the State was opened to traffic after the All Naga Students' Association; Manipur imposed the indefinite economic blockade since June 19 midnight.

The Naga Students' Federation too has jumped into the fray and its spearheading the economic blockade in Nagaland.