Issues

1,528 victims of fake encounters in Manipur: PIL

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on 1 October took serious note of a PIL alleging that there had been apathy on the Centre and Manipur governments’ part to bring to book the guilty among armed forces and state police, which allegedly were responsible for 1,528 extra-judicial killings in last 30 years.

The impact of the magnitude of extra-judicial killings of innocent citizens in Manipur was visible on a bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Ranajana P Desai, which had been instrumental in getting the CBI to go full throttle and unearth larger conspiracy behind two such fake encounters in Gujarat, where alleged criminals Sohrabuddin and Tulsiram Prajapati were killed by police officers.

The bench took judicial note of the PIL by NGOs - Extra-judicial Execution Victims families Association of Manipur through Neena N and Human Rights Alert through Babloo Loitongbam - and issued notices to the Centre and the Ibobi Singh government. It asked the Centre and state to file their responses by November 5.

Asking petitioner’s counsel senior advocate Colin Gonsalves to make other required officials party to the PIL, the court requested the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to respond to the macabre incidents and appointed advocate Menaka Guruswami as amicus curiae to assist the court in the case.

The petition gave details of each of the 1,528 people killed in fake encounter since 1979. It said though the SC upheld the constitutional validity of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) 15 years ago, it had issued certain dos and don’ts to the security forces. But, these guidelines were seldom followed, it alleged.

“By way of example, petitioner cites details of 10 cases where eyewitnesses exist, but the killings had been justified as encounters with militants,” the petitioner alleged. Even though the PIL detailed the killings by the security forces and police, it did not reflect on the killings resorted to by militants in the state, which could have resulted in eliminating an equal number of persons in the state.

“In almost all cases, young boys attending to their daily chores were picked up randomly by security forces and killed in cold blood. In several of these cases eye-witnesses, parents and neighbours were present when the victims were gunned down,” the petitioner said.

“What are even more frightening are the breakdown of the criminal justice system and a complete denial of the protection of right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. There is not a single instance where the perpetrators of the heinous crimes - torturing and killing of young in cold blood - have been brought to justice,” the petitioner said.

“Out of the 1,528 killings, petitions relating to 20 murders were taken to the Guwahati High Court where these are still pending. The cries of anguish had fallen on deaf ears,” it said and alleged that not a single investigation or departmental inquiry against the alleged perpetrator had been taken to logical end.

The petitioner said in a functioning democracy eyewitness accounts would be immediately acted upon leading to registration of murder cases, but “in Manipur such FIRs are not accepted at the police station, no investigation is done and no disciplinary action is taken”. 

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 November 2012 on page no. 3

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