Imphal: Ningombam Premananda (37) of Thoubal Okram, a VDF personnel who disappeared mysteriously after taking part in destroying poppy plantation at Faisi village in Chandel district was found dead near a hut at Levanant village in the district on Friday.
Premananda was part of the police team tasked with destroying poppy plantation at Faisi village on January 21. He had gone missing mysteriously after taking part in the poppy destruction drive and since then a massive manhunt was launched.
According to a source, the VDF personnel remained missing for days despite vigorous search operations carried out by security forces. On Thursday, a team of 130 police personnel of Thoubal and Chandel districts led by Additional SP (Ops) Okram Wangkhomba was dispatched for conducting a search operation to trace the missing VDF personnel, as agreed between the State Government and the JAC formed in connection with the dissapearance of the VDF jawan.
The team reportedly found the lifeless body of Premananda near a hut, which is hardly away from the camping site. Upon feeling a foul smell there, the team checked the place and found the dead body.
A team of Chakpikarong Police Station was guarding the body at the spot. A team of Forensic experts has been called in to identify the body, said the source.
Earlier Chief Minister N Biren Singh on the last of 3rd Session of the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly informed that the State Government is vigorously searching for the missing VDF personnel engaged in poppy destruction drive in Chandel district.
Replying to a calling attention motion raised by Opposition member Surjakumar Okram in the House on Friday, Chief Minister Biren said
that following detection of poppy plantation in Chandel district on January 19, Chandel Police was assigned to carry out a poppy destruction drive.
VDF no. 706 Ningombam Premananda (37) of Thoubal Okram was part of the team on the poppy destruction mission. Three teams
were deployed for destruction of poppy plantation at Faisi village. The teams spent the night in a temporary camp erected at Urantop Assam Rifles post. the VDF personnel reportedly went missing on January 20 night.
Getting report about the missing of the VDF, an immediate search operation was conducted on
January 21 from 11.30 am. On January 22, police tried to trace him through phone tracking but his phone was found switched off. Four
teams of security forces conducted search in the suspected areas including dense jungle.
On January 23, a team led by Okram Wangkhomba, Additional SP Chandel along with 15 AR, police teams of Imphal West and Imphal East conducted a search operation till 5.20 pm on the same day but could not trace the missing VDF personnel.
Again on January 24, four teams led by Amarjit Lamabam, DSP conducted search starting from 7.30 am. On the same day, another team of 18 personnel of 8 MR and 13 AR Jhoupi conducted a search operation in the suspected areas.
On January 25, a team comprising Chandel Police, 8 MR and 13 AR conducted search to trace the missing VDF jawan at Jhoumol and surrounding villages. On January 27, a team of Thoubal and Tengnoupal Police, including three family members searched for the missing VDF personnel starting from Urantop area.
On January 29, younger brother of the VDF personnel lodged a missing report with Chakpikarong PS, following which a team of
Chakpikarong PS conducted a search operation at Langhom village, Sajik Tampak area on January 30. Again, on January 31, Chakpikarong Police led by ASI Bhaktajit conducted a search mission but could not trace the man, the Chief Minister narrated.
Maintaining that the State Government was continuously tracking down for the missing VDF man since the day he went missing, the Chief Minister said that the government was also closely studying the clues whether it was a
plan of drug kingpins to demoralize the security forces engaged in ‘War on Drugs’ and factors behind the missing of the VDF personnel.
He further pointed out that the ‘War on Drugs’ is not a trivial issue as it is carried out with the involvement of NIA, NCB and NAB.
Biren disclosed that a person has threatened to kill him on social media. The War on Drugs campaign has become a horrible issue and as such, it won’t be justified to take it lightly, he added.
Drones and satellite mapping have been used in the War on Drugs. In the past, poppy planters planted poppy only in their farms but now they have planted poppy among the vegetable crops
like cabbage, mustard and pulses to evade identification, prompting the government to use drones for close watch of poppy plantation in remote hill areas, he said.
Three hill districts have been almost denuded by poppy platation. Poppy planters have no any human sense. As they plant poppy deliberately, the government also faces certain hardships to fight them back. Police personnel are facing hardships in destructing poppy cultivation in remote hill areas, the Chief Minister continued.
There is presence of drugs kingpins in the State as drug manufacturing factories have been detected. Above 300 persons including village chiefs have been arrested in the last 8/9 months in connection with poppy plantation and drugs smuggling. War on Drugs has become a people war as people have voluntarily supported it, he said.
With regard to the missing VDF man, the Chief Minister said that State Government through the Assam Rifles had apprised the Myanmar Army
during the recent border talks and requested to keep the missing VDF personnel safe and hand him over to the State Government if they find him in their country.