From our Correspondent
SILCHAR, June 8:The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued notices to the secretary, Ministry of home affairs of the Government of India, district magistrate and district superintendent of police of Ukhrul district of Northeastern State Manipur asking for a report on the alleged torture and the extrajudicial killing of three indigenous Meitei people in a encounter allegedly by the personnel belonging to 23rd Assam Rifles (AR) under the command of Major Hanuman near Maphou Dam, Nongdam village of Ukhrul.
After registering a case on a complaint filed by the Barak Human Rights Protection Committee, a human rights watchdog of Barak Valley, based on the information received from Centre for Organisation Research and Education (CORE), a Manipur based human rights organization, the NHRC issued the notice.
The information provided by the CORE reveals that on May 8, 2012, Major Hanuman (then Captain) of 23rd Assam Rifles, a paramilitary force of the central government of India, approached and requested Laishram Shyamkishore, 70 years old village elder of Tunukhong Awang Leikai, Imphal East District, Manipur, to persuade his son, Laishram Nobin alias Khuman and his son’s friends to surrender themselves and live in peace. Shyamkishore considered the possibility and secretly arranged for his son to surrender himself before the state authorities. It was reported that, at the instruction and arrangement of Major Hanuman, Shyamkishore accompanied his son to the meeting place where Nobin was supposed to surrender himself. However, this meeting did not materialize.
Shyamkishore, his son and two friends met Major Hanuman at Hidalok, which was approximately half a kilometer away from the bus stop at Loupheng village near Maphou Dam under Litan Police Station on May 9. They were wearing track suits. Shyamkishore witnessed the three men handed over an M-16 rifle, one Lethode gun, 50 live rounds of ammunition and three Lethode bombs as a symbol of formal surrender to the 23rd Assam Rifles.
On the next day, local dailies reported that three underground suspects had been shot to death in an encounter with 23rd Assam Rifles personnel. The conflict was stated to have lasted an hour and to have been near Chadong Tangkhul village under Litan Police Station. The Assam Rifles personnel were reported to have found the three dead bodies in the aftermath of the encounter. The force also recovered an M-16 with a grenade launcher, magazine and 55 live rounds, one 9mm carbine, magazine with three live rounds, one Lethode gun with three rounds and one fire case, one carry bag and one ammunition pouch. The 23rd Assam Rifles also issued a statement claiming the deceased had been active in and around Maphou Dam, engaging in extortion and deliberately interfering with the construction of the Dam. The three bodies were handed over to the Litan Police Station.
According to a source, Shyamkishore became suspicious and anxious when he received news of the encounter and immediately rushed to the Regional Institute of Medical Science (RIMS) Imphal morgue and was shocked to discover the bodies of his son and the two other men he had convinced to surrender to the 23rd Assam Rifles the previous day. He was further surprised to find that the bodies were not in the dress the three men had been in just the previous morning. Instead of the track suits, what they were wearing in the previous day, the three men were fitted out in camouflage fatigues. Later, the examination of the bodies further allegedly revealed evidence of severe torture. According to a source, Irengbam Roshan’s body had been badly mutilated; his genitals had been crudely removed and one of the eyeballs of Ningthoujam Ingocha had also been gouged out.
The CORE, a human rights body of Manipur, in its statement stated that Shyamkishore believed he was doing the right thing for the sake of the community, for justice and peace and for his son’s future when he reasoned with the three men to turn themselves in. The report further stated, “He probably prevailed on them to do so out of their trust in and respect for Shyamkishore. The three men were ready to submit themselves to the law, to surrender also their weapons and to be held in custody; this also required respect for and immense faith in the judicial system. What was so particularly perverse was that Shyamkishore was instead unknowingly made complicit in his own son’s torture and murder, and the murder of his son’s friends”. “This utter betrayal by the very people who should be moral exemplars to civil society should trouble and grieve the Central Government over and beyond the dubious methods employed by the AR personnel, because the motivation, means and ends of law enforcement have been polluted by impunity and fear of such”, the statement further added.
After registering the complaint as case no. 66/14/13/2012-PF, the NHRC considered the matter on May 24 and passed an order saying “transmit the complaint to secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, district magistrate and superintendent of police, Ukhrul district, Imphal calling for an action taken report within two weeks.”