Manipur encounter deaths show pattern of carelessness, says Supreme Court #AFSPA


J. Venkatesan, The Hindu

Centre assures Bench that it will come out with dos and don’ts for security forces

The Centre on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would take a decision on the expert committee report holding that seven persons were killed in Manipur in fake encounters in six cases.

 

Additional Solicitor General Paras Kuhad submitted this before a Bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ms. Ranjana Desai hearing a public interest writ petition highlighting how mass killings had taken place in the last decade. The committee comprised the former Supreme Court judge, Justice N. Santosh Hegde, the former Chief Election Commissioner, J.M. Lyngdoh, and the former DGP of Karnataka, Ajay Kumar Singh.

 

Justice Alam told counsel: “We can’t tell you how sorrowful we are. What is the use of sitting here? Everything appears meaningless.” The committee, in its report, said six cases of encounters resulting in the killing of seven persons were fake and the victims did not have any criminal background. The committee also reportedly recommended withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA).

 

‘No respect for human lives’

 

The Centre also assured the court that it would come out with “dos and don’ts for the security forces” and sought four weeks for responding to the report. When senior counsel V. Giri, appearing for the Manipur government, wanted the court to lay down guidelines on this issue, the Bench observed: “How many times this court laid down guidelines. Tragedy is guidelines are not followed. We want to proceed further and these things should not happen in future. These deaths reveal a pattern of carelessness. No respect for human lives.”

 

The Bench said, “Security forces are also human beings, away from family. They also get brutalised. These people are also young and in the midst of violence. They also don’t lead a normal life.”

 

NHRC suggestion

 

In its response to the committee’s report, the NHRC said: “To ensure that all such incidents in the future are thoroughly investigated, irrespective of whether they involve the Army, the paramilitary or the police, or are joint operations of these forces, the Government of Manipur must follow the NHRC guidelines on the steps to be taken after encounters.”

 

Detailed enquiries

 

The steps are: reporting these incidents within 48 hours to the NHRC and holding magisterial inquiries within three months. These enquiries should not be perfunctory, as they presently are.

 

The magistrate must inter alia closely examine all reports, including of post mortem, inspect the site and take statements from the families of the victims; the CBCID should inquire into each incident within two months.

 

“In every instance where the nature of the incident warrants it, the Government of Manipur should appoint a Commission of Inquiry headed by a judge. It must accept the findings and act on the recommendations of these commissions, instead of burying them, which is its current practice. The constitution of such a Commission of Inquiry must immediately be reported to the NHRC, and the report sent to it as soon as it has been tabled in the Legislative Assembly.”

 

The Bench adjourned the hearing by four weeks.

 

Are we in a state of war, asks SC


Are we in a state of war, asks SC

IMPHAL, November 23 , Agencies : The Supreme Court today came down heavily on Manipur government with regard to the case of extra-judicial killings in Manipur.

The case was heard in the Supreme Court of India for the third time today, 23 November 2012 and it was greatly disturbed by the attitude and orientation of the affidavit filed by the Government of Manipur.

The apex court asked the Manipur government counsel “How a State Government could file an affidavit stating that they are killing “us” and so we are killing “them”. Are we in a state of war?”

Referring to section asking the National Human Rights Commission to respond to the cases taken up by them, the Court wanted to know “Are you making the National Human Rights Commission an alibi to all the killings”?

The Court took the matter seriously and asked the Additional Solicitor General of India to be present in the Court. The matter was passed over.

Later in the day, in the presence of the Additional Solicitor General, the court ordered the Central Government and the National Human Rights Commission to file their affidavit by 2 December and fixed 4 December as date of the next hearing.

The Supreme Court had earlier on November 5 rapped the Manipur Government for not filing its report on alleged extra- judicial killings in the state, saying “people are dying out there”.

A bench headed by Justice Aftab Alam directed the government to file its response within two weeks and also asked the Attorney General to assist it in deciding the case.

“Do it quickly. People are dying out there. File your report by November 19,” the bench said when the counsel appearing for the state sought six weeks time to file the response.

The apex court had on October 1 expressed concern over spate of alleged extra-judicial killings in the state and issued notices to the Centre and the state government on a plea for an independent probe into around 1,500 such cases.

The court’s order came on public interest litigation (PIL) petition by Extra-judicial Executions Victim Families Association Manipur (EEVFAM), an association of the families of the alleged victims, pleading with the apex court to set up a special investigation team and direct inquiry into all such cases.

The association said over 2000 odd extra-judicial killings have taken place in the state but no one has been held guilty till date.

The petitioner alleged innocent people with no criminal records have been killed by the security forces and no proper investigation has been done in such cases.

“Not only were there no criminal investigations and prosecutions of the guilty, even departmental enquiries were not conducted and no policemen or personnel of the security forces punished departmentally for their actions.

“The magisterial enquiries that took place sometimes were conducted by the executive magistrates under the cover of secrecy and most often without intimation to the eyewitnesses and the members of the families. They were conducted as eyewash,” the petition said.

x court to set up a special investigation team and direct inquiry into all such cases.

The association said over 2000 odd extra-judicial killings have taken place in the state but no one has been held guilty till date.

The petitioner alleged innocent people with no criminal records have been killed by the security forces and no proper investigation has been done in such cases.

“Not only were there no criminal investigations and prosecutions of the guilty, even departmental enquiries were not conducted and no policemen or personnel of the security forces punished departmentally for their actions.

“The magisterial enquiries that took place sometimes were conducted by the executive magistrates under the cover of secrecy and most often without intimation to the eyewitnesses and the members of the families. They were conducted as eyewash,” the petition said.

 

Manipur- No country for ‘outsiders’


The Telegraph
Wednesday , November 7 , 2012
Image
home rule: Many Manipuris feel the ILPS will protect their interests

Ramji was barely 14 when he landed in Imphal looking for employment. Originally from Bihar’s Sitamarhi district, Ramji, now 44, initially worked as a daily wage earner before starting his own cement shop in 1997. But he may have to wind up his business and go back to his village.

That’s because the Manipur government wants to introduce the Inner Line Permit System (ILPS), a mechanism which allows people from other states to stay in Manipur for a limited period of time and that too with a permit. In July this year, the Manipur Assembly passed a resolution to that effect unanimously.

The ILPS comes under the purview of a central law ‘ the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR), 1873, legislation introduced by the British to control business in what was then called the Bengal Eastern Frontier. An Inner Line Permit (ILP) is also required by people from other states when they go to Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland (except Dimapur). The permit allows them to stay in the state for a period of 15 days to six months. The measure was introduced in a bid to protect the interests of the tribal communities in the region.

But the Union home ministry has rejected Manipur’s proposal to extend the ILPS to the state. In September, home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said, “Our Constitution will not allow such things.” A senior home ministry official adds, “There is no rationale for the state to seek restrictions on the entry of Indians under an outdated law.”

But locals allege that “outsiders” are marginalising the natives. “People are being robbed of land and employment by the settlers. We cannot let this continue any longer,” says Mutum Churamani Meetei, co-convener of the Joint Action Committee (JAC), a collective of 20 non-political groups advocating the ILPS.

There are about 9 lakh Mayangs or “outsiders” in Manipur out of a total population of roughly 27 lakh. Mostly from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, they work as construction workers, carpenters and porters. There are also other communities such as Punjabis, Gujaratis and Marwaris, who have been settled in Manipur since the early 20th century and run businesses in hardware, cement, marble and so on.

The introduction of the ILPS would spell doom for people like Ramji. “Last year, around 25 Bihari labourers left in fear. But we will continue to stay,” says Ramji, who lives in Imphal with his wife and three children and earns about Rs 5,000 a month.

Although the Manipur government is in favour of slapping on the ILPS, constitutional experts say that according to Article 19(1)(d) and (e) of the Constitution, every Indian citizen has the right to move freely throughout the territory of India and also to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India.

A senior state government official also points out it’s the Centre that has to give the go-ahead for the ILPS. “We cannot implement the ILPS unless the Centre gives its nod.”

Not so, says advocate Khaidem Mani, stressing that the state is legally empowered to make its own laws without seeking the permission of the Centre. “Article 19(5) of the Constitution states that nothing shall prevent the State from making any law with reasonable restrictions in the interests of the general public,” he says.

But constitutional expert Subhash Kashyap says that “State” should be read as Union of India, and not as a state legislature. Mani has a counter-argument. He says, “Under Article 12 in the Constitution, ‘State’ also means the government and the legislature of each of the states.”

While the debate rages, Kashyap warns that President’s rule can be imposed on Manipur if it doesn’t comply with the directions of the Centre. “Under Article 365 and 356 of the Constitution, if the President is satisfied that the state has failed to comply with the directions of the Union and a situation has arisen where the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution, he can impose President’s rule,” he cautions.

But clearly, the Manipur government has dug in its heels and is refusing to budge. The ILPS issue is likely to be raised again in the winter session of the state Assembly. And Manipur government sources say that chief minister Ibobi Singh will try and persuade the Centre to reconsider its proposal.

This is not the first time that migrants are being targeted in Manipur. In 2008, 14 migrant labourers were gunned down by militants. Government sources say that it’s the militant groups that have been pushing political parties to implement the ILPS in Manipur. In fact, this time too militants have set a December 31 deadline for the “outsiders” to leave.

Though the BEFR was never in place in Manipur, a different permit system for outsiders was, and it was abolished only on November 18, 1950. “That’s the reason we want to keep this as the cut-off date to decide the domicile status of the people. All those who entered the state after this date would require an ILP. They would have no right to purchase land or property in the state,” says Meetei. What’s more, land and property owned by people who came in after the proposed cut-off date would have to be handed over to the state.

However, some say this is an illogical demand. “Unfortunately, this anti-outsider sentiment is politically motivated. This is harming the image of Manipuris outside the state,” says Amar Yumnam, who teaches at Manipur University.

Social scientists too argue that the ILPS is out of place in a globalised world. “Many Manipuris are moving out of the state in search of work. It is infantile to close Manipur’s door to residents of other states,” says Bhagat Oinam, associate professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University. Oinam, however, believes that there should be some restrictions on people from other states wanting to buy land there.

Ironically, Manipur’s move comes at a time when states where the ILPS is in force are having second thoughts about continuing with it. “We don’t have the mechanism to keep a check on every migrant. Even though outsiders enter the state with an ILP, it is not always possible to know if they are overstaying,” says Nagaland chief secretary Lalthara. Another senior Nagaland government official admits that many benami (illegal) properties have also been bought by “outsiders”, which proves that the ILPS has not had much effect.

But in Manipur there is now a groundswell of sentiment in favour of the ILPS and few are willing to listen to the other side of the argument. “Only the ILPS can ensure that we are not swamped by outsiders,” asserts Manipur People’s Party leader Okram Joy Singh.

No wonder settlers like Ramji are afraid.

 

Extrajudicial killings: SC issues notice to Centre, Manipur government


By Abu Zafar10/1/12, Abu Zafar, Newzfirst

 

NEW DELHI

The

Su

 

Supreme Court of India Monday admitted a petition filed by the family members of the victims of extra-judicial killing in Manipur and issued the notices to the Central and Manipur Governments.

The Extrajudicial Executions Victims’ Families Association (EEVFA) had filed the petition before the apex court seeking the constitution of a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the extra judicial killings in the state since 1978.

Appointing Menaka Guruswamy, a Supreme Court lawyer, as the amicus curiae into the matter, the bench consisting Justice Aftab Alam and Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai set 4 November as the next date of hearing.

Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the petitioner, told the Supreme Court that more than 1,528 people have been killed by security forces since 1978.

The petition also claimed that the killings took place when the victims were in the custody of police or other security forces.

The petition also stated that neither departmental enquiries were conducted into such killings nor the criminal investigations.

“Magisterial inquiries that took place sometimes were conducted by the executive magistrates under the cover of secrecy and most often without intimation to the eyewitnesses and the members of the families. They were conducted as an eyewash.” the petition said.

Families of victims see a ray of hope:

Responding to the developments, Neena Ningombam, secretary of Extrajudicial Executions Victims’ Families Association (EEVFA), said, “There is a hope of justice, that’s why we moved apex court.”

According to Neena she has knocked every possible door in pursuit of justice, but futile.

Neena, 33, is mother of two sons of age 10 and 5 years. Her husband Nongmaithem Michael was killed on 4 November 2008, by the security forces branding him as the terrorist.

(A group photo of victims’ families during a meet in last March. Courtesy- humanrightsmanipur.wordpress.com)

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