Manipur mourns little Elizabeth

Thousands of people gathered at the Don Bosco School grounds here in Imphal today to bid farewell to Minister for General Administration and Elections Francis Ngajokpa\\'s daughter, eight-year-old Lungnila Elizabeth, whose decomposed body was recovered yesterday, after she was kidnapped on November 4 from outside her school. A few arrests had meanwhile been made in connection with the murder, sources said, even as the state government announced that the case would be cracked within a couple of days. Details of those reportedly arrested were, however, not immediately known.

Tempers seemed to have calmed a little in Imphal town, which was put under curfew after news of the recovery of Elizabeth\\'s body spread through the town yesterday. Curfew is expected to be lifted at 5 am tomorrow. Prior to his daughter\\'s funeral, a solemn Francis Ngajokpa, Elizabeth\\'s father, told the grief-stricken gathering that he had forgiven those who had taken the life of his daughter. \\"This little sacrifice of my little daughter,\\" he said, \\"should be the last one in the state. Let us all pray for unity … no matter what community we belong to, we\\'re all human beings.\\" People were moved to tears when Elizabeth\\'s sister Teresa, and roommate Olivia took the dais to speak about Elizabeth. Little Elizabeth was laid to rest at the Chingmeirong graveyard near Imphal.

Among the state\\'s hill districts, the people of Ukhrul today took out a \\"peace rally\\", while Senapati was hit by a public bandh called by the district\\'s students, to protest against the incident. Apart from the gathering at Elizabeth\\'s funeral, Imphal and three others valley districts wore a deserted look with people responding to a general strike called by various student bodies, to protest against the murder.

Elizabeth\\'s killing comes eight years after the kidnapping of Deepak Kumar Jain, a Manipur Public School student in August 1994. As in the case of Elizabeth, Deepak, who was kidnapped for ransom was also subsequently killed by his abductors.

By Sobhapati Samom (newsfiledelhi@rediffmail.com)