Police resorted to tear gas to disperse an angry mob late on Friday evening in Churachandpur town. The protesters were demanding that two suspects in the kidnapping of a 13-year-old boy, presently in police custody, be handed over to them, senior police officials said on Saturday.
On July 2, two suspects were arrested for allegedly kidnapping Eric Zohmathuoi while he was returning home after his daily evening run. A resident of Rengkai, the brave boy managed to escape his captors within an hour of being kidnapped and made it back home with the help of locals. Later in the evening, his father filed an FIR at Churachandpur police station, and the suspects were apprehended shortly.
Amrita Sinha, Superintendant of Police (Churachandpur) said two persons were arrested in connection with the case, but declined to make their names public at this stage of the investigation. She added that police were forced to use tear gas to disperse protesters on Friday evening.
“The matter is of a sensitive nature. The suspects were produced in court, which remanded them in police custody for five days, We are yet to ascertain the motive. Our investigation is on,” Sinha said.
Speaking to fpsjreview.in at the two-room wooden house where he lives with his parents and infant sister, Eric said he was out jogging with his friends as usual on July 2. “I go jogging with my friends every day at 4.30 PM. That day, too, we finished our run and I stopped by at my friend’s house to return his running shoes. I was walking back home when an Omni van pulled up next to me. The next thing I know, I was pulled inside. I was pinned down. One of them tied my hands while another clamped his hand over my mouth to stifle my shouts for help.”
As he was pinned to the floor of the van, Eric said he was unable to see where they were going. “They didn’t say anything to me. They were speaking among themselves in Hindi, a language I don’t understand well. All the while, I was thinking of escape. After around 30 minutes of driving, they stopped and got down from the vehicle. I could see them in a heated discussion some distance away.”
Luckily for Eric, the kidnappers had left the door open. “Seeing my chance, I jumped out and began running away from them as fast as I could. I didn’t look back to see if they were in pursuit. I ran for about two km. It was near Khuga Dam, as far as I could understand. A small boy next to a house on the roadside asked me if I was scared, and called his parents. They took me a shop nearby from where local people called someone they knew in my locality. They drove me down to my residence, where I related the incident to my parents.”
He said he was asked to identify the suspects after they were picked up by the police. “I didn’t get a look at their faces as they had covered them with cloth. However, I did notice that one of them was bald, and the other was wearing a metal bracelet.”
His mother Lalvarthieng said the family knew about the kidnapping only when Eric returned home. She said his father, Stephen Vanlalrum, was a mason by profession and was out on work. “We were getting worried as Eric was taking more time than usual to return from his run. When his father returned home, we approached the police. We’re so thankful Eric returned safe and sound. We don’t know why he was kidnapped.”