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Manipur Fake Encounter Row: CBI files FIR against Army Major

Imphal: In yet another case of alleged involvement of Army officials in fake encounters, the Central Bureau of Investigation has filed an FIR against an army personnel for the fake encounter of a 12-year-old boy in Manipur in 2009.

The CBI has been directed by the Supreme Court to probe 29 cases of fake encounters in the state, and this is the first time that an Army officer has been named in the FIR filed by the CBI.

The Army officer, Major Vijay Singh Balhara, who was then associated with the Assam Rifles has been allegedly involved in killing a 12-year boy Azad Khan on March 4, 2009.

Azad, who was a resident of Phoubakchao Makha Leikai area of Imphal was allegedly shot in front of his parents by Balhara and 21 other army men. The SC-appointed commission led by Justice (Retired) Justice Santosh Hegde has termed this as a ” fake encounter” and the 12-year old was found to have no criminal records.

Two months after the alleged encounter an FIR had been registered under sections of attempt to murder under Arms Act among others.

“According to the security forces’ evidence, the deceased was suspected to be a member of the Peoples United Liberation Front (PULF),” the Committee said. PULF is not a banned organization according to Manipur Government.

The Commission reported Azad Khan’s family’s statement which stated that he was reading a newspaper with his friend and neighbor Kiyam Anand Singh in the verandah of their house when the army men dragged him to the nearby field and beat him up ruthlessly, while his family members protested. They locked up Azad’s friends and relatives in a room, but through a window, they witnessed the whole incident of how after beating up Azad, one of the commandos shot him and left a pistol near his dead body.

The Police’s version of the story says that they had received information about a terrorist movement in the locality where Azad lived. After reaching the spot, they found two people who were trying to flee and were firing shots at them. An encounter soon followed and after some time the boy’s dead body was recovered along with a 9mm Smith and Wesson pistol.

The Supreme Court-led commission found serious contradictions between the Major’s statement and that of other witnesses.
The FIR against the Army officer comes at a time when there are discussions all around to lift the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) from Manipur.