Monday, August 31, 2009

Response on the Mass petition by Prime Minister office

Peoples Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) launched a year-long signature campaign in support of torture victims throughout the year in 50 districts of different states of North India marking the International Day in Support of Torture Victims (June 26).

On same day 121 mass petition was sent to Prime Minister of India office demanding police reform, debate on the Prevention of Torture Bill, 2008, rehabilitation of torture victims. In this context prime Minsiter office forwarded herewith in for appropriate action to Secretary Ministry of Home Affair.

Please see the given below linkage:
http://testimony-india.blogspot.com/2009/06/peoples-intiative-for-torture-free.html

http://sapf.blogspot.com/2009/06/glimpse-of-anti-torture-day-celebrated.html

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Varanasi/Sign-in-support-of-torture-victims/articleshow/4706255.cms

http://mynews.in/fullstory.aspx?storyid=20411#


http://pvchr.blogspot.com/2009/06/no-to-torture-establishment-of-rule-of_4790.html

http://www.ahrchk.net/pr/mainfile.php/2009mr/654/

http://www.scribd.com/full/19252333?access_key=key-ldpcjzf49eetdhxyv2j

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Thanks from the mothers of Manipur to you


 Dear Janab Rahul Gandhi,

Greetings from Manipur.

 On the seventh day of the ongoing training of trainers on testimonial therapy for psychological well being of survivors of torture and organized violence ( Sunday the 17th August) organized by Wide Angle,PVCHR and Danish oorganization RCT, Mr. Montu led us to an infamous tourist spot the Loktak lake. The Loktak lake is covering an area of approximately 286 sq.kms at 768.5 m above mean sea level. It sparkles on the southern part of the Manipur basin, some 45 Km away from the capital City, is the largest natural lake in eastern India and also a depository of the cultural history of the indigenous people of Manipur. Besides the Keibul Lamjao, the floating sanctuary of the Sangai deer (Brow Antlered Deers) which is only found here in the world, is an integral part of this wetland.

 We reached at Thangga hillock at 11 A.M, from where we could capture the enchanting view of the lake and Karang island which is encircled by water from four directions. Our local guide gave us a warm reception, we parked our vehicles there and kicked off for Karang the secluded hillock island. We hired a motor boat in place of wooden canoes, as the strong gust of wind was found unfriendly for canoeing.

 While traveling on the boat, we were thrilled to see those daring men and women who were busy in fishing with net and fishing rods while sitting on their canoes, encountering the dazzling violent waves. The swampy "phumdis" (the floating mats of vegetation) were scattering around the lake and numerous thatched huts were seen built on the floating phumdees. The two villages of Loktak lake Karang and Thangga, are inhabited by indigenous Meiteis, having a population of around 20,000. The main occupation of the villagers is fishing. These peace loving villagers have bore the brunt of armed conflict and they went through at least two military operations that took place in 2006 and 2009, conducted by army to flush out the insurgents sheltering in the floating huts. During the both operations ten of dozens of poor villagers including women and children were subjected to force labour, arbitrary arrest, tortured and many villagers became victims of internally displacement.

Please see the given below linkage of the letter sent to the Prime Minister of India for the racists attacks on the Manipurians.

http://pvchr.blogspot.com/2009/04/racist-attack-on-manipurians.html

 

Incidentally, the agony of the villagers was exposed again following the arbitrarily detention and harassment of four innocent young boys by Indian para military forces (Assam Rifles posted at one Ningthoukhong village some 8 Km away from Karang island) on the same they we landed at the island. The distressing news was conveyed to us by few elderly women at the very moment we were about to leave the island at 12.30 P.M . On hearing the shocked news we took a quick testimony of the elderly women including the mothers of the ill-fated boys, instantly I contacted your office through Mr. Kanishka Singh on mobile and pursued for safe release of the innocent youths. Fortunately enough, our mission succeeded and four boys were released without much delay. The news of safe release of their children brought a sigh of relief and smile in the vexed faces of local women, who were deeply brooding over the uncertain fate of their children.Mothers thanks to your office for the quick release of their sons.  The apprehension and angst wrote large in their faces spoke a volume about the fake encounter killings perpetrated by state actors that has already claimed many innocent lives in recent times. This is being a common phobia engulfed the psyche of every mother whose son has been picked up by security personnel in the state. Please refer to the given below to :

http://testimony-india.blogspot.com/2009/08/open-letter-in-matter-of-manipur_02.html

Details of Children who were saved from the hands of the security personnel were:

  1. Salam James so of Jhulon Singh Age 19 years, reading in Class XI
  2. Haobijam Nanao (Bobi) son of H. Kwaklei, age 21 years
  3. Oinam Somorjit Singh, age 18 years son of O. Sanaton Singh
  4. Master Nongthoujam Somarjit Singh, age 11 years son of Lukhoi Singh

It was revealed that the innocent young boys were their way to collect some materials like sands for smearing the bamboo made wall of a house with mud which is under preparation for a proposed marriage ceremony.

In the second week of the workshop, participants will take the real testimony of the survivors of torture and organized violence and we will let you with the self suffering of the TOV survivors.

 

The PVCHR and Wide Angle therefore requests you to:

1) Encourage the Government of India to immediately withdraw the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958;

2) Suggest the government to constitute an independent agency to investigate and prosecute cases of human rights violations committed by the state agencies in Manipur;

3) Recommend the government to implement the recommendations made by the Justice B. P. Jeevan Reddy Commission submitted to the government in 2005;

4) Urge the government to simultaneously find a political solution to the problems affecting the rule of law in Manipur though a process of interactive dialogue with the people and their leaders, thereby creating an environment of mutual respect and understanding.
 
5) Urge to the planning commission of India to start special project for the Loktak region.

 

With Kind regards,

Dr. Lenin

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bmGFulRG6I

--
Dr. Lenin
Ashoka Fellow
2007 Gwanju Human Rights Awardee
Convenor-PVCHR
Mobile:+91-9935599333
 Please visit:  
http://www.universalrights.net/heroes/display.php3?id=101
www.pvchr.org
www.youtube.com/pvchrindia
www.pvchr.blogspot.com
www.sapf.blogspot.com
www.antiwto.blogspot.com
www.dalitwomen.blogspot.com
www.lenin-shruti.blogspot.com

My final words of advice to you are educate, agitate and organize; have faith in yourself. With justice on our side I do not see how we can loose our battle.. The battle to me is a matter of joy. The battle is in the fullest sense spiritual. There is nothing material or social in it. For ours is a battle not for wealth or for power. It is battle for freedom. It is the battle of reclamation of human personality….
Dr. B.R.Ambedkar
"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality." (Desmond Tutu)

PVCHR actions against torture in Manipur

PVCHR actions against torture in Manipur

Peoples' Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR): Update information in the case of death threat

Peoples' Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR): Update information in the case of death threat

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Open letter to the Chief Minsiter of Manipur for detention of a girl


To,
The Chief Minister,
Manipur
Imphal
 
Subject: regarding picking up of 11 years old girl by the Commando
 
Dear Sir,
 
I hereby informed that S. Bidyarani Devi 11 year old daughter of S. Dewan Shingh of Nongmaikhong. t. thobal district was picked up by the Commando on 14th August, 09. Now S. Bidyarani Devi is detained in Manyang Police station, Imphal. The detention is against the Honorable Supreme Court Judgement in case of D.K Vs. Government of West Bengal, Juvenile Justice Act 2000 and UN convention on Child Right.
 
Inspite her detention, on 16th August, 09 four other children were picked up by the Assam Riffle - 1).  Salam James s/o of Jhulon Singh Age 19 years, reading in Class XI 2). Haobijam Nanao (Bobi) son of H. Kwaklei, age 21 years 3).  Oinam Somorjit Singh, age 18 years son of  Sanaton Singh 4). Master Nongthoujam Somarjit Singh, age 11 years son of Lukhoi Singh.The Young four boys were released without much delay with the intervention of Mr. Rahul Gandhi.
 
Therefore It is my kind request for the immediate release of S. Bidyarani Devi and restore the belief of the common masses on the rule of law and Justice.
 
Thanking You
 
Sincerely Yours
 
Dr. Lenin
Ashoka Fellow
2007 Gwanju Human Rights Awardee
Convenor-PVCHR
Mobile:+91-9935599333
  Please visit:  
http://www.universalrights.net/heroes/display.php3?id=101
www.pvchr.org
www.youtube.com/pvchrindia
www.pvchr.blogspot.com
www.sapf.blogspot.com
www.antiwto.blogspot.com
www.dalitwomen.blogspot.com
www.lenin-shruti.blogspot.com

My final words of advice to you are educate, agitate and organize; have faith in yourself. With justice on our side I do not see how we can loose our battle.. The battle to me is a matter of joy. The battle is in the fullest sense spiritual. There is nothing material or social in it. For ours is a battle not for wealth or for power. It is battle for freedom. It is the battle of reclamation of human personality….
Dr. B.R.Ambedkar
"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality." (Desmond Tutu)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Broken System:Dysfunction, Abuse, and Impunity in the Indian Police

Human Rights Watch release the report, “Broken System: Dysfunction, Abuse, and Impunity in the Indian Police,” on 7th August, 09. The report documents ongoing violations by police in India and the lack of accountability that fuels abuse.

The report also examines the ways in which everyday police working conditions contribute to and even encourage human rights violations. Broken System calls for a comprehensive overhaul of police law and practices in order to hold police accountable, significantly reduce violations by police, and build rights-respecting police forces.

The press conference starts at 2:30 pm at Press Club, China Bazar Gate,Hazaratganj, Lucknow. The brief of the report was shared by Ms. Naureen Shah, Ms. Meenakshi Ganguly of Human Right Watch, Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi, Peoples' Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) and Mr. Asish Awasthi.

The report can be read at:-
http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/07/29/india-overhaul-abusive-failing-police-system#SelectedAccounts


Release of the HRW report

http://www.scribd.com/full/18577581?access_key=key-2313n4ev291pmlpm721b

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Open letter in the Matter of Manipur



To,

Shri Rahul Gandhi,

MP and General Secretary,

Congress,

New Delhi

Sir,

Greetings from PVCHR and Wide Angle.

TEHELKA INITIATIVES publish the sequence of photos; a local photographer captures the death of a young man, killed in a false encounter by the police in broad daylight, 500 meters from the state assembly. I wrote petition to National Human Rights Commission and state it is clear extra judicial killing and urge to take immediately take the action. Please visit the given below linkage for the detail news of the tehelka initiatives.

http://www.tehelka.com/story_main42.asp?filename=Ne080809murder_in.asp

My personal experience in two times visits to Manipur, I gaze the behaviour of the military and the police with the common people and I also witnessed the frustration of the Manipurian people for the main land Indian. Torture and corruption by law enforcement agencies and violence by underground forces are eliminating the democratic space for democratic processes, which is converting in collapse of rule of law in Manipur fueled by the frustration and anxiety of common Manipurians.

I met the Irom Chanu Sharmila, co-awardees of Gwangju Human Rights Award from Manipur, a Northeastern province of India. Burning the fire of non-violence in the land of insurgents, Sharmila has made the extraordinary protest against a black law. She started 'fast unto death' six years back, demanding repeal of the draconian law 'Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958' (AFSPA). The Guinness Book of World Records has already recognized Sharmila as the longest surviving fasting individual in the world. According to the Guinness Book, it is the longest protest on a social cause by a single individual anywhere in the world. Sharmila was also one of the '1000 Peace Women', who were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, 2005.

In fact, the curly-haired, fair complexioned Sharmila has changed the face of protest in the insurgency torn Manipur. Located nearly 2400 km away from the national capital, the Myanmar (Burma) bordering state is home to 30 ethnic groups. Moreover Manipur nurtures near about 25 armed outfits, who are fighting New Delhi with demands ranging from sovereignty to self-determination. Sharmila completes six years of her non-violent protest on November 2. She started hunger strike immediately after the Malom massacre of November 2, 2000 in which the security personnel (of Assam Rifles) killed 10  innocent  people.

During her fasting days in Manipur, Sharmila was kept in a well-guarded ward of the Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital in Imphal. On November 20, 2004, Prime Minster Dr Manmohan Singh assured Sharmila that the government would review the controversial law to fight insurgents in the region. Later, a review committee was constituted by the central government to review the imposition of AFPSA. However, Sharmila remained unmoved. "I will continue my non-violent agitation until my demand is fulfilled," she told government representatives.

In August 2004, Chief Minister of Manipur, Okram Ibobi Singh, tried to persuade her to give up her fast as the state government had lifted the 'Disturbed Area Act' (this act is preliminary essential to impose AFSPA some where) from the Imphal municipal areas. But she refused to entertain the request of the chief minister, as the decision of the cabinet was 'not up to her expectations'.
It may be mentioned that, AFSPA that is applied only in Kashmir and Northeast empowers the security forces to arrest people and enter property without warrant, and to use excessive force (including shooting or killing, even if the lives of the members of the security force are not at imminent risk). The Act facilitates impunity because no person can initiate legal action against any member of the armed forces for anything done under the Act, without permission of the central government.

AFSPA was first applied to Assam (now Asom) and Manipur and later amended in 1972 to extend to all Northeastern states (of the country), including Nagaland, Tripura, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram. Insurgency-torn Manipur was completely placed under AFSPA in 1980. Manipur has witnessed innumerable killings ever since. Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh himself admits, "Over 12,000 security personnel and insurgents, and 8000 innocent people have lost their lives till date."

In the last decade, the armed forces have often been accused of committing brutalities under AFSPA. The brutal July 11 (2004) slaying of weaver Manorama Thangjam, 32, by the men of Assam Rifles sparked off a public outcry. When this failed to elicit any response from the authorities, grief-stricken angry women stripped naked and rattled the gates of Kangla Fort (headquarters of the Assam Rifles), demanding justice.

Born in 1972 to Irom Nanda and Irom Shakhi, Sharmila, the youngest of the 9 children, has always been considered to be very brave and sensitive. On the third day of her fast-unto-death, Sharmila was arrested by the state police and charged of attempting to commit suicide. Sharmila has been under judicial custody ever since.

In 2002, Chief Minister Singh told Sharmila that as the government would not be able to repeal the act, keeping in view the law and order situation of the state, she should withdraw her agitation. Sharmila said in reply, "I love peace very much, but first of all, we must have the right to justice." Later in the year, a frustrated Singh told the Manipur State Assembly that the state government had to spend around Rs 147,000 in two years to keep Sharmila 'alive'.
 The legitimate question that may be raised here, that how can India, which prides itself as the largest democracy in the world, ignore the spirit of non-violent movement that was initiated by none other than Mahatma Gandhi?

 So in this hostile situation, to provide the psychological support to the survivors of arms conflict area PVCHR – RCT with the support of Wide Angle a local organization of Manipur is organizing training of the trainer on the testimonial therapy from 10th August to 21st August, 2009. In the workshop Manual "Giving Voice" will developed in the context of the North –east region. 

The imposition of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, a draconian law pressed to use in several parts of India, in the states of Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir in particular, provides statutory impunity to the state agencies. The vires of this law was repeatedly challenged before the Supreme Court of India. Each time the Court dismissed the petition. Caught between two equally inhuman forces, the underground militants and the state agencies, the people of Manipur live as if they are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.

Concerns have been expressed about this situation by domestic and international agencies. For example, the National Human Rights Commission of India has repeatedly requested the Government of India and the state administration to deal with the situation of law and order in Manipur on several occasions. The annual reports of the Commission for the past four years consistently reflect this fact.
Justice B. P. Jeeven Reddy Commission, deputed to study and report to the Government of India about the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 has also highlighted this fact, in addition to recommending to the Government of India an immediate withdrawal of the law from the state. The Commission filed its report to the Government in 2005. The Prime Minister of India responded by stating in a press conference that the law will be withdrawn as early as possible. Since then nothing is heard about the governments' plan to withdraw the law. International human rights organizations have also expressed similar concerns.

 The PVCHR and wide angle therefore requests you to:

1) Encourage the Government of India to immediately withdraw the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958;

2) Suggest the government to constitute an independent agency to investigate and prosecute cases of human rights violations committed by the state agencies in Manipur;

3) Recommend the government to implement the recommendations made by the Justice B. P. Jeevan Reddy Commission submitted to the government in 2005;

4) Urge the government to simultaneously find a political solution to the problems affecting the rule of law in Manipur though a process of interactive dialogue with the people and their leaders, thereby creating an environment of mutual respect and understanding.

 

With warm regards,

Dr. Lenin

 --
Dr. Lenin
Ashoka Fellow
2007 Gwanju Human Rights Awardee
Convenor-PVCHR
Mobile:+91-9935599333
 Please visit:  
http://www.universalrights.net/heroes/display.php3?id=101
www.pvchr.org
www.youtube.com/pvchrindia
www.pvchr.blogspot.com
www.sapf.blogspot.com
www.antiwto.blogspot.com
www.dalitwomen.blogspot.com
www.lenin-shruti.blogspot.com

My final words of advice to you are educate, agitate and organize; have faith in yourself. With justice on our side I do not see how we can loose our battle.. The battle to me is a matter of joy. The battle is in the fullest sense spiritual. There is nothing material or social in it. For ours is a battle not for wealth or for power. It is battle for freedom. It is the battle of reclamation of human personality….
Dr. B.R.Ambedkar
"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality." (Desmond Tutu)




Saturday, August 1, 2009

Voice of voiceless: Press conference Invitation: Release of Report

Voice of voiceless: Press conference Invitation: Release of Report

Fwd: Petition in Murder In Plain Sight at Manipur

Please write to Prime Minister of India at pmosb@pmo.nic.in and fight back the impunity

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights <pvchr.india@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, Aug 2, 2009 at 11:56 AM

To,
Chairperson,
NHRC,
India.
 
Sir,
Greetings from PVCHR.
 
Please see the link:
 
 

It is the clear extra judicial killing. Please immediately take the action .

With kind regards,

Lenin

PVCHR

Murder In Plain Sight

In Manipur, death comes easy. In this damning sequence of photos, a local photographer captures the death of a young man, killed in a false encounter by the police in broad daylight, 500 metres from the state assembly. How can a State justify such a war against its own people, asks TERESA REHMAN

1. Chongkham Sanjit, 27, is seen standing in a PCO with the
Manipur Police Commandos adjacent to a pharmacy (marked by an arrow)
in Imphal on July 23
2. Though surrounded by commandos, there
is no obvious resistance from Sanjit
(marked by a red circle))
3. Sanjit is seen calmly
walking away with the heavily armed commandos
4. While a commando reaches for his pistol, Sanjit remains visibly calm. They are standing barely 500 metres from the state assembly 5. Sanjit, known to be a former member of the People's
Liberation Army, had retired on health grounds. Though
surrounded, he is calm and there seems to be no urgency
or imminent violence in the picture
6. In a sudden turn of events, Sanjit is hustled away roughly
by the commandos
7. Sanjit is dragged by the commandos into the pharmacy.
He has been surrounded by commandos for several minutes
and is obviously unarmed
8. A few minutes later, commandos drag Sanjit's
dead body out of the pharmacy
9. Sanjit's body is thrown into a truck. At no point
while the camera was clicking had he offered any resistance
to the commandos
10. Sanjit's dead body on the truck. The camera continues to click. The commandos
make no attempt to stop the public gaze
11. The body of Rabina Devi, a pregnant bystander.
She was killed a few metres away in the police firing
when they chased a fleeing youth
12. Sanjit's body on a stretcher.His family claims
he had broken his earlier links with the militants
and was leading a normal life

If any picture can speak a thousand words, these photos — available exclusively to TEHELKA — could fill volumes. They capture a shootout that happened in the heart of Imphal, Manipur's capital, barely 500 metres from the state assembly, on July 23. They show the moments before, during and after the 'encounter killing' of a 27-year-old Indian citizen – a young man called Chongkham Sanjit, shot dead by a heavily-armed detachment from Manipur's Rapid Action Police Force, commonly known as the Manipur Police Commandos (MPC).

There is a grotesque and brutal history to the bullets that killed this young man. For years, decades even, security forces in Manipur have faced allegations of human rights violations and extrajudicial murders committed under cover of the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). In 2000, Irom Sharmila, stirred by the gunning down of 10 civilians, including an 18-year-old National Child Bravery Award winner, by the Assam Rifles, started a hunger fast — that lasts to this day — in protest against the AFSPA. In July 2004, the nation was rocked by the protests of a group of Manipuri women who marched to an Assam Rifles base in Imphal, stripped naked and raised a searing banner: "Indian Army Rape Us". They were protesting the rape, torture and murder, a fortnight earlier, of Thangjam Manorama, 32, who was picked up from her home at night by the Assam Rifles.

Manipur rose up in protest that day, and in August 2004, the Centre relented, withdrawing the AFSPA from Imphal's municipal zone. 'Post-Manorama,' as history is marked in Manipur, the army has taken a backseat, withdrawing outside the municipality. However, life in Manipur is still lived on the tightrope. In a seemingly new counter-insurgency strategy, the MPC has unleashed a reign of terror in the state.

PAST INCIDENTS

NOVEMBER, 2008:
SALAM AJIT SINGH

Singh, 30, was allegedly killed by the Imphal West Police Commandos and 39 Assam Rifles on November 7, 2008. Singh ran a taxi service. In January 2009 his family filed a petition with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

DECEMBER, 2008:
MD TASLIUMUDDIN

Tasliumuddin, 20, a daily wage labourer, was allegedly killed in an 'encounter' by the Imphal West Police Commandos and 32 Assam Rifles on December 30, 2008. The NHRC has registered a case

DECEMBER 2008:
OKRAM RANJIT SINGH
Singh, 27, a brick mason was allegedly killed in an 'encounter' by the Imphal West Police Commandos and 12 Maratha Light Infantry on December 22, 2008 in Imphal West district. The family has filed a petition with the NHRC

JANUARY 2009:
LAISHRAM DIPSON

Dipson, 28, was allegedly killed by the Imphal West Police Commandos and 39 Assam Rifles on January 12, 2009 at Laingam Khul. The lorry driver's family has filed a police complaint

JANUARY 2009:
NINGTHOUJAM ANAND

The 30-year-old auto rickshaw driver was allegedly killed by the Imphal West Police Commandos and 16 Assam Rifles on January 21, 2009. A complaint has been filed with the NHRC

The organisation known as the Manipur Police Commandos (MPC) was first set up in 1979 as the Quick Striking Force (QSF). Former Inspector General of Police, Thangjam Karunamaya Singh told TEHELKA, "They were trained for special operations. But the men had strict instructions. They were told to fire only when fired upon and pay special attention to the needs of women, children and the elderly. If they arrested somebody on suspicion, they had to take responsibility for their security," stated Singh.

The MPC does not fall under the AFSPA but has now become notorious across the state. It operates only in the four districts of Manipur – Imphal East, Imphal West, Thoubal and Bishnupur. The MPC is housed in isolated commando barracks and has minimal contact with the general population, though its personnel are all locals.

Extra-judicial killings, and, in particular, fake encounters by the MPC have become common in Manipur. In 2008, there were 27 recorded cases of torture and killing attributed to the MPC. Where once they conducted 'encounters' in isolated places, they now do not think twice before operating in cities, in broad daylight, as they did on July 23. In several incidents, innocent civilians carrying money and valuables have been robbed and sometimes killed. In some cases official action has been taken against commandos for misconduct. For instance, in July 2009, five police commandos who had reportedly robbed three youths were suspended. But for the most part, their extra-judicial activity goes scot free.

According to the official version of Sanjit's encounter death at 10:30am on July 23, a team of MPC personnel was conducting frisking operations in Imphal's Khwairamband Keithel market. They saw a suspicious youth coming from the direction of the Uripok locality. When asked to stop, the version goes, the youth suddenly pulled out a gun and ran away, firing at the public in a bid to evade the police.

The official record states that the youth was finally cornered inside Maimu Pharmacy near Gambhir Singh Shopping Arcade. He was asked to surrender. Instead, he fired at the police. The police retaliated and the youth was killed. The account states that a 9mm Mauser pistol was "recovered". The youth was identified from his driver's license as Chongkham Sanjit, son of Chongkham Khelson of Kongpal Sajor Leikai, Manipur.

Usually, such official versions of encounters are difficult to disprove though everyone may know them to be false. But in an almost unprecedented coincidence, in Sanjit's case, a local photographer rushed to the scene and managed to shoot a minute-by-minute account of the alleged 'encounter'. The photographs (shown in preceding pages) clearly reveal that, contrary to the official version, Sanjit was, in fact, standing calmly as the police commandos frisked him and spoke to him. He was escorted inside the storeroom of the pharmacy. He was shot point blank inside and his dead body was brought out. The photographer, fearing for his safety, does not dare publish these pictures in Manipur.

The photographs clearly reveal that contrary to the official version, Sanjit was standing calmly as the MPC commandos frisked him

Eyewitness accounts partly corroborate the police version — except their account is obviously about a young man other than Sanjit. These witnesses state that a youth did escape from a police frisking party about a hundred metres away from where Sanjit was killed. The police chased this youth and opened fire, killing an innocent bystander, Rabina Devi — who was pregnant at the time — and injuring five other civilians. Afterwards, the police showed the media a 9mm Mauser pistol which they alleged was thrown away by the militant before he fled. After about half an hour, the police claimed to have killed the youth who escaped from their hands "in an encounter"; according to them, this youth was Sanjit. The photographs clearly indicate otherwise.

The police claim Sanjit was a member of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), a proscribed insurgent outfit. Chief Minster Okram Ibobi Singh also made a controversial statement in the assembly that day, asserting that there was no other alternative but to kill insurgents.

Sanjit was indeed a former PLA cadre. He was arrested in 2000 but freed. In 2006, he retired from the outfit on health grounds. In 2007, though, he was detained again under the NSA and was only released a year later. Since then, he had been staying with his family at his home at Khurai Kongpal Sajor Leikai and had been working as an attendant in a private hospital.

But even if Sanjit was a former militant, he should not have have been killed in a false encounter. The photos show him talking to his killers, calmly, without offering any resistance. He was frisked moments before the shootout. He was not an insurgent on the run. In fact, Sanjit had to make periodic appearances before the Court, a requirement that the Court later lifted. "Legally speaking, Sanjit was a free man," says M Rakesh, a lawyer at the Gauhati High Court's Imphal Bench. There are also significant inconsistencies in the police versions of the recovery of the weapon. First, they said it was flung away by the fleeing militant. Then they said it was recovered from Sanjit after the encounter. As the photos show, Sanjit was ushered into the pharmacy, not chased in. Also, if Sanjit was, in fact, armed with the 9mm Mauser, why wasn't it found during the frisking? Why, as the photos show, was he taken inside the storeroom?

First the police said the pistol was flung away by the fleeing militant. Then they said it was recovered from Sanjit after the encounter

The law says if a death is caused by state forces in an encounter which cannot be justified by Section 46 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the officer causing the death would be guilty of culpable homicide. In this case, only a rigorous investigation can establish what exactly transpired. Instead of instituting a judicial enquiry, however, the state government is setting up a departmental enquiry, which is unlikely to yield any justice to the victims' families. Sanjit's family claims he had broken his earlier links with the militants and was leading a normal life. They say he had gone out that day to buy medicines for his uncle, who is undergoing treatment at Imphal's JN Hospital. Says Sanjit's mother, Inaotombi Devi, "Life is very cheap in Manipur."

Manipur is routinely roiled by such devastating narratives. Ex-MLA 78-yearold Sarat Singh Loitongbam's son Satish Singh was killed by the armed forces. Though a devout Hindu, he refuses to perform his son's last rites until his name is cleared of wrongdoing. Like Satish, there is Ningombam Gopal Singh, a 39- year-old Grade-IV employee at the Imphal Bench of the Gauhati High Court, a man who was chatting over tea with women at a hotel when he was dragged off by men in plainclothes, to be shot dead in an 'encounter'. There is 24-year-old Elangbam Johnson Singh, a student and part-time salesman, picked up by the MPC while out with a friend and killed in an encounter, his corpse at the morgue bearing signs of torture. Stories like these are a grotesque lattice in Manipur. "Life in Manipur," as one observer puts it, "is like a lottery. You are alive because you are lucky."

WRITER'S EMAIL
teresa@tehelka.com

From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 6, Issue 31, Dated August 08, 2009

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Posted By People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights to Peoples' Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) on 8/02/2009 11:56:00 AM