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COMBAT LAW
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 •  Vol #2, Issue #1, Combat Law
 •  Human Rights
 •  Manipur
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Documenting violations
A commission of inquiry looks into abuses of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in Manipur.
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Combat Law, Volume 2, Issue 1 - Human rights defenders have been deeply concerned by the prolonged imposition of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and resulting gross violations of fundamental human rights in Manipur continuously. During a meeting in Mumbai, Ashoka Fellows Collin Gonsalves and Babloo Loitongbam came up with the idea of conducting a people's inquiry. On returning to Manipur, Babloo Loitongbam, through his organization Human Rights Alert (HRA), convened a round-table of the legal fraternity, the human rights community, and NGOs 20 August 2000 at Imphal. The round-table unanimously agreed to constitute an Independent People's Inquiry Commission and to invite Justice H. Suresh, former Judge of the Bombay High Court, to lead the Commission. A Preparatory Committee (hereafter referred to as Prep. Com.) with Mr. A.C. Sharma as the Convenor and Mr. Babloo Loitongbam as the Co-convenor was also constituted to work out the details of the Commission.

The Prep. Com., through ten rounds of meetings, prepared for the Commission. The term of reference of the Commission was drawn up as follows:

To inquire into the overall human rights situation in the State of Manipur as a consequence of the prolonged application of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958

Justice H. Suresh along with advocates Colin Gonsalves and Preeti Verma, arrived in Imphal on 21 October and led the Independent People's Inquiry Commission. The Commission met with victims of torture, rape and the families of the involuntarily 'disappeared' and arbitrarily killed. The commission also examined the available reports of official commissions of inquiries and the cases taken up by the Manipur Human Rights Commission. Discussions were held with prominent lawyers, human rights defenders and experts in Manipur.


Torture is regularly reported in Manipur. Youths suspected to be members or sympathizers of the underground groups when arrested are subjected to third degree methods by the military to extract information on the activities of their groups. But it is always a challenge to systematically document cases of torture as the torture survivors are crushed not only physically but also psychologically. The fear of further reprisal has always been a hurdle in taking up legal action on cases of torture. Considering the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and the weakness of the police in dealing with excesses by the military, this apprehension is not entirely baseless. Many of these youths died in custody; others just "disappeared"; yet others survived but often maimed and handicapped.

Khuraijam Pranam Singh, aged about 23 years, resident of Kwakeithel Laishram Leikai, who runs an electrical shop at Kwakeithel for a living, is one such torture survivor. Thanks to the efforts of courageous young lawyers like Chongtham Ngongo who promptly used the legal system to save his life. The IPIC in coordination with the Meira Paibis of Kwakeithel, Laishram Leikai held a session at the local Mandop (Community Hall) on October 22, 2000. Pranam Singh came in person and testified before the Commission. He was extremely weak and walked with great difficulty. Two parts of his intestines were protruding out of the right side of his stomach. He was still under medical treatment at the time of testifying before the IPIC. Here is his statement.

On July 22, 2000 while on a bus to Bishnupur to deliver a generator our bus was stopped and searched by the personnel of 'F' Company of Assam Rifles near Maibam Lokpaching. I was ordered to stay back, the rest of the passengers were allowed to leave along with the bus. Thereafter, I was blindfolded and taken inside their camp. I was forced to eat a cant of tobacco. My clothes were removed. My hands and legs tied up. And they started beating me up, including administering electric shocks. I was hung upside down and beaten black and blue. The torture continued intermittently for the next three days.

On July 30, 2000 a rod was inserted up my anus and vigorously stirred thereby causing severe pain and bleeding. In doing so the wooden rod broke inside my anus. Chilli powder was also applied to my eyes, anus and genitals as a result of which I could not urinate. A doctor among the army personnel, checked my blood pressure and forced me to eat a handful unknown tablets. On the same day, I was taken to the Nambol Police Station from where a combined team of police and the AR took me to the Community Health Centre, Nambol where one Dr. N.K. Nando examined me. From there I was referred to the Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital, Porompat. I was admitted in the security ward of the JN Hospital the same day. A few days later on August 4, 2000, I was operated. I was released on August 8 after signing a personal bond of Rs 10,000 and after giving a surety of the same amount."

Legal Issues

On medical examination at the Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital, Porompat, on July 30, 2000, Dr. L. Krishanmani Singh senior Surgeon described the injuries of Pranam as follows:

  • Penetrating injuries: Perforation anterior wall of rectum 1 1/2 inches from anal verge, below peritoneal reflection - admit index finger.
  • Perforation of the base of bladder proximal to trigon - admit index finger.
  • Perforation of dome of bladder (intraperitoneal rupture) - admit index finger.
  • Urinary ascites.
  • Recto-versical fistula with Pneumoturia.

On August 1, 2000, Laljit, Naik Subedar, AR filed a First Information Report (FIR) against Pranam Singh alleging him to be a supporter of the banned People's Liberation Army (PLA). Subsequently, Pranam's father approached the concerned Magistrates as to whether Pranam has been produced before them as per section 57 and 167 of Criminal Procedure Code and Article 22 of the Constitution of India. In this regard, the Chief Judicial Magistrate Bishenpur, the concerned Magistrate, passed an order dated August 7, 2000 explaining that neither Pranam nor any case record on him had been produced before him till the said day.

Having no other alternative, Pranam's father then moved the Gauhati High Court, Imphal Bench by filing a Habeas Corpus petition, being case number WP (Cril) 11 of 2000 on 9 August 2002. The next day the father filed a report to the police, alleging arbitrary detention and torture of his son Pranam Singh by 'F' Company Assam Rifles. The same day the High Court issued a direction to the AR personnel to hand over Pranam Singh to the nearest police station. Despite the court's direction, neither the police nor the AR produced Pranam to any magistrate. On August 17, 2000 the AR as well as the police testified before the High Court, denying that Pranam Singh was in their custody. The same day, the Court directed all the respondents, including the Officer-in-charge of JN Hospital Porompat, to produce the detenue before the court the following day at 10 a.m. by convening a special sitting of division bench of the Court. After a hectic argument the State Govt. advocate admitted the detenue was in the custody of the State police.

Subsequently, on August 20, 2000, the police personnel produced the records of Pranam Singh's arrest before the CJM alleging that Pranam Singh was arrested on August 19, 2000. The Chief Judicial Magistrate, Bishnupur released Pranam Singh on bail on August 26, 2000 after executing a personal bond of Rs. 10,000/- and a surety of the same amount. The CJM categorically stated that the FIR against Pranam Singh is a false and fabricated story as the accused was already in the judicial custody in JN Hospital on July 30, 2000 in a critical state preparing for a major operation and as such it is impossible to arrest him on August 1, 2000 from a place about 25 kilometres from the JN Hospital.

IPIC Observations

The commission heard the case of Pranam Singh. His brother Roni Singh also gave a statement. Thereafter, the members of Meira Paibi were heard. What they said appears to be very significant. These ladies keep vigil as torchbearers. As Loitongbam Sabita stated, what happened during the day could be seen by all; but what happens in the night nobody can see. This is why they keep watch in the night.

They stated before the commission that the Indian army is sent to Manipur not to protect the people but to harass women and children in particular. There are large numbers of cases where people are arrested under false charges with false witnesses. The people know the persons so charged are innocent but they are tortured and they are made to suffer inhuman treatment. They also deposed about army personnel sexually abusing women and even sexually abusing little boys. These women are trying to safeguard the dignity of women and children. What Pranam Singh has stated has to be understood in the light of what these women are trying to safeguard - the dignity of women and children.

What is significant is that Pranam Singh is not involved in any underground movement nor does he belong to any militants group. He has a shop and is carrying on his business. If the allegation is that he was found with some arms and ammunition there should be some acceptable evidence. On the other hand we find that the neither the army nor police have ever searched his home or his shop. The police have registered a case stating that he was caught with some bullets on August 1, 2000. According to the police when he was brought to the police station by the army, he had serious injuries and that is why they sent him to the hospital. Therefore, it is clear that he was in army's custody and he suffered injuries while he was in their custody.

The police registered a FIR at the instance of the army that he had in his possession certain bullets. This was on August 1, 2000 when he was admittedly in the hospital since July 30, 2000. Even assuming that the army did apprehend him with bullets in his possession, there is no justification for torturing him. He was admitted to the hospital on July 30, 2000 and he had to undergo an operation, remaining there for about forty days. Therefore, obviously the case registered against him is a false case and is intended perhaps to protect the AR personnel.

We understand a writ petition has been filed on his behalf by his brother by way of Habeas Corpus petition in which the petitioner also claimed for compensation for his wrongful detention and torturer. We hope that while the Hon'ble High Court has disposed of the petition, the High Court will also grant adequate compensation to Pranam Singh for what he had suffered. Pranam Singh injury is so serious that his is still not cured completely. He requires an operation as parts of his intestine are still protruding outside his stomach. We are told that the Doctor had stated that after some time perhaps the intestine can be inserted back into it proper place. We hope that High Court will take into account all these aspects before sanctioning compensation to Mr. Pranam Singh.

IPIC Recommendation

An Inquiry should be ordered by the High Court by appointing an Inquiry officer, under its supervision and with a direction that the Inquiry Officer should submit his report to the High Court itself. The Inquiry Officer should be empowered to call for all records and summon witnesses including army personnel involved in the case. On receipt of such report the High Court should not only grant compensation to Pranam Singh but should also direct the government to prosecute the officers concerned, for unlawful detention and for causing grievous injury to Pranam Singh.

Rape

The military environment is inherently masculine and misogynist. The masculinity cults that pervade military establishments are intrinsically anti-female and therefore create a hostile environment for women. In the case of Manipur the matter is aggravated by the fact that the soldiers operating here besides hailing from a different and relatively more patriarchal cultural backgrounds, are also placed at the elated status of impunity by the special power legislations. As a result, rape and other forms of sexual harassments while conducting operation amongst the civilian populations are very common.

However, most rape by the army goes unreported due to fear of social stigma and the futility of taking up an embarrassing legal battle against the might of the Army. The first reported rape case in Manipur by the military is that of Miss Rose in 1974. An officer of the Border Security Force repeatedly raped her. Rose committed suicide out of shame while the perpetrator went scot-free, due to lack of sufficient evidence. The Ahanjaobi case of 1996, where two Army personnel raped a married woman in front of her disabled 12-year-old son, was a turning point in public attitude towards the crime and its victimization. The public outrage and the intensity of the movement practically forced to the Army Authority to initiate Court Martial proceedings. The two Army personnel were found guilty and punished for the crime in 1997.

The gang rape of M. Mecry Kabui, aged about 25 years, wife of M. Akham Kabui, resident of Lamdan village by the personnel of 112 Battalion, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp on July 19, 2000 is yet another such tragic story. Mercy's father-in-law M. Thaitoungam Kabui is the chief of the Lamdan Kabui village. On October 22, 2000 the IPIC visited Mercy's family. A female member of the IPIC also spoke her in private.

On July 19, 2000 at about 5.30 p.m. my husband, my father-in-law Thaitoungam Kabui and I were standing at the Verandah of our house. Commander Devshis Biswas A.C. (Assistant Commander) from the 112 battalion CRPF Camo is located at a distance of 150 meters from our house. They were coming from the house of the village secretary Shri. Tangdimlung Dimpu Kabui. I know the said commander. The said commander was in civil dress and other 6 (six) personnel were in uniform. They were all armed. At the relevant time my mother-in-law had gone to the house of my eldest brother-in-law. When the Commander and the six CRPF personnel reached our courtyard, he instructed the CRPF personnel to arrest my husband Akham and to take him to their camp and he left. Three CRPF personnel arrested/seized my husband Akham and kept him at a little distance away from our courtyard and started beating him. At the relevant time my father-in-law was near them and requested them to stop beating my husband. I was very frightened.

The other three CRPF personnel asked me to go inside the house. I refused to go inside. They caught my neck and forcibly pushed me inside the house. I tried to escape from the place through our kitchen. The two Jawans caught the shawl I was wearing and forcibly took me to the bed at the room located near the kitchen and the said two Jawans started forcibly touching upper parts of my body. The other Jawan was standing near the door. I shouted "please do not do, don't." Then they forcibly pulled my legs and hands a- part by pointing their guns at me. Then they took away my phanek and pulled up my petticoat. I tried to free myself from them in vain. Then the said two Jawan committed rape on me one after another. I called out to my father-in-law to help me. My father-in-law came running inside the room. I was so frightened and shocked that I was only half conscious and cannot recollect the incident fully. When my father - in - law came inside the room the two CRPF personnel left the room. Then my father-in-law took me out of the house. My husband asked my father - in - law whether the CRPF personnel have committed rape on me or not. He affirmed that they have raped me. Then my husband caught my hand and told me to go to the CRPF commander in the camp.

The CRPF personnel who were keeping my husband forcibly separated me from him and they took my husband to the camp. They left my father-in-law and me behind. Semen discharged from the two CRPF personnel got stained on my petticoat and phenek. I also sustained pain in my private parts. When I urinated, I checked my private parts and the pain coming from there. I found blood in my private parts.

The Medical examination took place only after three days. The family lodged the complaint immediately, however, even three months later no identification parade has been conducted and not a single arrest has been made.

Legal Issues

A complaint was lodged by Mercy herself in the Loktak Project Police Station on July 20, 2000 at about 3.00 p.m. which is being registered as FIR no. 10(7) 2000 Loktak P.S. under section 376 and 34 IPC. The Ivestigating Officer of the case Shri L. Gopal Singh seized the following article by preparing a seizer memo on 20-7-2000 at about 4.45 p.m.:

  • Blue cotton Phanek having semen stain;
  • 8 One Petticoat green in colour (terry-cotton) having semen stain.

The Police produced Mercy before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Bishnupur for recording her solemn statement under 164 of CRPC on July 29, 2000. Her statement along with the statement of her father-in-law and her husband were recorded. No arrest has been made till today. The concerned Police officials are still waiting for the result of the DNA test whose blood samples were collected on August 21, 2000 at the office of Doctor L. Fimate, Professor and Head of Department, Forensic Medicine, RIMS, Imphal. The list of individuals whose samples were sent for DNA typing as per the order of the CJM, Bishenpur are as follows.

  • Mrs. M. Mercy, aged about 25 years of Lamdan Kabuit village;
  • Mr. M. Akham R. Naga, aged 35 years, of Lamdan village;
  • Havildar No. 731191116, Reshanlal, aged 48 years of Tenahar, District- Mandi, Himachal Pradesh;
  • Constable No. 941123454, Altaf Badesh Mujawar aged 26 years of Tasgaen, District - Sangli, Maharastra;
  • Constable No. 854790029, Hari Dev Singh, aged 34 years of Rajpur Kalan, District - Pratapgarh;
  • Constable No. 913244296, Mahaskumar Panchal, aged about 25 years of Arniakala, District - Shahjahanpur, M.P.;
  • Constable No. 913183992, Sunil Prasad, aged 30 years of Newlpur, District Siwan, Bihar;
  • Constable no. 981190541, Jitendar Singh, aged 22 years of Palam Gaon, Delhi
  • Constable no. 913261288, Sailim Kalita, aged 29 years of Dumuria, P.O. Ehankamaria, Assam and
  • Constable no. 880892996, Arbindpal Singh, aged 31 years of Kerapur, District Gajiabad, U.P.

The police are awaiting the results of the DNA typing for further investigation.

IPIC Observations

The fact remains that the police have not done a proper and prompt investigation into this case. They have not held even the identification parade so far. The incident took place three months ago and the police could have easily secured the names of all the suspects and completed the investigation.

We are also not aware as to what statement the Investigating Officer L. Ishwarlal Sharma, Bishenpur police station has recorded from the Commandant of the CRPF Battalion deployed at this village. From what we have heard and from what we have seen from the statements recorded by the Police, the said Assistant Commandant Devashis Bishwas should be treated as an accessory to the crime. He was very much present when the heinous crime was being committed. We have seen some of the press reports, which appeared in the press during that time. The CRPF personnel seem to have taken up the contention that they were not involved in the crime and that the DNA would show whether they were involved in the crime or not.

The press reports show that the same CRPF Battalion sent the list of certain suspects to the police station. It is not clear whether all the names were included or whether any name is left out. We want to point out that the victim and the members of the family after undergoing the trauma are shattered and living in a state of terror. Reportedly, the case has already been documented by the MSHRC and referred to the NHRC.

Recommendations

A proper investigation should be conducted by the police. We therefore suggest that it is not too late for the police to have an Identification (ID) parade. For this purpose, the police should call upon the CRPF to furnish a true list of all the personnel who were deployed on that day at that place and all those personnel should be included in the ID parade. We also suggest that the officer Devashis Bishwas, the Assistant Commandant of CRPF should be considered as an accused person and should be charged for abetting the crime and also booked under 120 (B) of IPC. The government, and in particular, the police should take initiative for the protection of the family.

NHRC and MHRC are requested to continuously monitor the development on the investigation by periodically calling for the reports from the investigating authority and to highlighting the issue before the public. The party or human rights groups are encouraged to move the High Court for issue of a writ in the nature of Mandamus for calling for progress reports and carrying out the investigation under the overall supervision of the High Court.

Arbitrary Killings

In the ongoing armed conflict situation in Manipur killings and counter killings is a daily phenomena. For many decades the local newspapers have been ceaselessly reporting stories of the military hunting down the "insurgents"; the "liberators" ambushing the "occupation army"; the attacked Army troops taking out their wrath on the "suspects", mowing them down in one go or torturing them, sometimes to death.

While in most cases of this spiralling violence, the general public watches helplessly; occasionally, when large number of civilians are senselessly murdered the general public gets outraged. Some such well documented case are the Heirangoithong Massacre (1984) where 13 spectators of a volley ball match were arbitrarily killed by the CRPF; the Oinam Massacre of (1987) where 15 villagers were arbitrarily murdered by the Assam Rifles; the RMC Massacre (1996) where 9 civilians including a medical student were killed inside the hospital premise by the CRPF; the Tonsem Lamkhai (1999) incident where 10 civilians including State Government employees on election duties were arbitrarily killed by the CRPF.

In order to damp down the public outcry the Government of Manipur usually, but not always, institutes Judicial Inquiries under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952 or Magisterial Inquiries to ascertain the facts of the incidents. But due to lack of cooperation from the armed forces and recently due to active intervention against such inquiries by the armed forces, the inquiry reports could never be made public.

Tera Bazar Massacre

The Tera Massacre is one such incident where the efforts of the public to institute even an official inquiry did not succeed. But the innocent civilians did get killed. The IPIC in coordination with the local youth club of Terakeithel area, namely the Ideal Club, visited the spot on October 23, 2000 and recorded statements of witnesses and families of victims of the incidents.

On August 25, 1993 some unidentified youth shot at the CRPF personnel attached to the Police Out Post Tera Keithel, Imphal while they were fetching water from a nearby public hydrant. Two CRPF personnel were killed. Thereafter, the CRPF personnel rushed out of their barrack and indiscriminately fired amongst the civilians in the area. Five innocent civilians were killed and many sustained bullet injuries. The deceased are as follows:

  • Ms. Naorem Ningol Soraisham Ongbi Memcha Devi, aged about 33 years, wife of S.Singh of Phousakhai, Moirand, Bishenpur District, a shopkeeper and mother of four.
  • Mr. Khumbongmayum Angou, aged about 66 years, son of (late) Sandrok Singh of Sagolband Tera Keithel, Imphal West District, Retired Head Constable of Manipur Police.
  • Mr. Mutum Ajit Singh, aged about 33 years, son of (late) Mutum Shamungou Singh of Sagolband Sapam Leirak, Imphal West District, Laboratory technician cum photographer of the Department of Science & Technology and Environment, Government of Manipur.
  • Mr. Phukhrambam Bihari of Langathel, Thoubal District, a rickshaw driver.
  • Mr. Nongthombam Dhakeshore, aged about 72 years, son of late N. Debendra of Sagolband Tera Keithel, Imphal West District, a carpenter.

The indignant public constituted a Sagolband and Patsoi Kendra Joint Action Committee (JAC) to gear up appropriate action and demand justice for the senseless killing of innocent civilians. Thousands of people marched towards the Chief Minister's office on September 1, 1993 and submitted a memorandum requesting inter alia to institute an inquiry under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952 to ascertain the facts of the incident. The Inquiry was never constituted; instead, the Government of Manipur paid Rs.20, 000/- each to the families of the deceased and Rs.5, 000/- to the injured persons as ex-gratia.

Bramhacharimayum Manimohan Sharma aged about 48 years, a shopkeeper, recounted the incident of August 25, '93 to the IPIC team led by Justice Suresh from his bed. He remembered that at about 8.30 a.m., CRPF personnel stationed at Police Outpost, Tera Keithel, came out to fetch water in a nearby public hydrant. They were fired upon by unknown youths where two of them got killed. Thereafter, CRPF personnel from their Group Center at Langjing, about three kilometers from the site of the incident, came rushing and fired indiscriminately all over. He was shot in his arm and stomach; the bullet hit his spinal cord paralyzing him from waist down. He was treated at the "Regional Institute of Medical Sciences" Imphal for one and half years. Thereafter, on the advice of the Medical board he was sent to Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu where his treatment continued for one year.

Thereafter, he was treated in the Down Town Hospital, Gauhati, Assam. Since then he is bed-ridden and suffers from severe bedsores and body itch. No action has been taken against the CRPF personnel so far. The treatment at Vellore was reimbursed because his wife is a Government servant. Apart from payment of Rs.5, 000/- ex-gratia nothing has been given. He is likely to be bed ridden for the rest of his life. Bramhcharimayum Ongbi Inakhumbi Devi, his wife stated that they have spent over Rs. 300,000/- on his medical treatment and have to spend Rs. 30/- per day on his drugs. The shop he was manning, which was a rented one, is lost now.

The IPIC team also visited Irengbam Mani, Sub-Inspector of the Police Outpost Tera at that relevant time. He confirmed that the CRPF on seeing their colleague's death, rushed out and fired indiscriminately at innocent bystanders, including a dhobi (Bihari washer-man), a printing press and a way-side hotel killing 3 persons on the spot and seriously injuring a woman by the name of Naorem Mema (33 years) who succumbed to her injuries in hospital the same day. He said that he pleaded with the CRPF personnel not to fire at the innocent civilians. He confirmed that all those killed were innocent by standers including a friend of his who was a retired havildar (Head Constable) of Manipur Police.

Hema (60 years) wife of Late Khumboingmayum Angou Singh, who died in the incident, also testified before the IPIC. She confirmed that on the fateful day her husband, a retired police havildar, went out for morning tea. She heard the gun shot and later came to know that he was killed in the firing. She was paid Rs.20,000/- after 3 years. Given a chance, she stated before the IPIC that she would like to kill the murderers of her husband, but with a sense of helplessness she continued, "We have no means".

Lokendra Singh, son of Late Nongthombam Dhakeshore had a similar story. His father went out for morning tea and was shot in both the legs. He was in the hospital for months and was brought home on November 23, 1993 as the doctors said his case was hopeless. He died within half an hour after reaching home. He received Rs. 21,000/- as compensation. Mr. Ayekpam Tomba Singh, member of the JAC, a retired Head Master of the Tera Kebol Girls' High School, said that compensation in Manipur is on an average of Rs.20, 000/- which is much lower than other States. He alongwith with W. Toni also a teacher and A.B. Meitei stated that the role of the army is very negative in Manipur and called for (a) withdrawal of Army and (b) repeal of the AFSPA.

H. Surendra Singh, president of the JAC, who is a retired Superintendent of Police of Customs Department, Manipur stated that there was fear and uncertainty in the minds of the people and although he was sure that the demands of the JAC would be acted upon nothing was done.

IPIC Comments

The above incident clearly establishes that the CRPF had no justification whatsoever to kill or to cause injury to those innocent persons. It is clear the incident took place within the hotel premises where the victims were having their morning tea. They were not indulging in any confrontational activity against CRPF. In other words, killing them was a clear act of murder and all the CRPF personnel involved should have been prosecuted for the same.

We also learnt that at the material time at the Police Outpost, there was a Sub-Inspector, who had protested against the shooting. Since the CRPF persisted in their unlawful acts, the Sub-Inspector and 2 constables even fired in the air with a view to stop them. It appears that the Sub-Inspector later on had made a detailed report to the higher officers. He regretted that the police or the Government took no action against the CRPF personnel who shot at the innocent people.

The Government seems to have given some ex-gratia as mentioned above but the sum was extremely inadequate. Mr. Brahmacharimayum Manimohan Sharma is still paralyzed, unable to move about and still requires treatment. He lost his livelihood and the Government seems to have not bothered about it at all. We therefore suggested that in all the cases the Government should consider paying more compensation, which should be reasonable enough to compensate the loss the family members have suffered.

All the witnesses who appeared before us categorically submitted before us that such an incident took place because of the presence of CRPF in the city. They demanded that the Army should be withdrawn from Manipur and in any event the army should not be given such uncontrolled powers to kill the people. They also submitted that there are other States in this Country where the law and order problem is worse than that of Manipur and in those States, the army has not been deployed, and an Act like the AFSA has not been made applicable. We are inclined to agree with this submission.

Recommendations

Prosecution of CRPF personnel involved in random firing and removal from service. Compensation for the families of the deceased persons of at least Rs. 2,00,000/- each. Compensation for Bramacharimayum Manimohan Sharma, of at least Rs. 500,000/- plus re-imbursement of all medical expenses, specialized treatment at a Delhi Hospital and provision of a wheelchair and other physiotherapy facilities.

Enforced Disappearances

The phenomenon of enforced disappearances, in Manipur, is closely linked to the counter-insurgency operations conducted by the security forces. It occurs in conjunction with other forms of human rights violations like arbitrary detention, custodial torture and killings etc. Most of the disappearance cases occur when the armed forces arrest suspects. Underground members and their sympathizers are often subjected to severe torture after arrest, to extract information on their activities. The process of reversing the loyalty of the underground activist is a traumatic experience wherein terror tactics both physical as well as psychological are resorted to. Many people never come out of these torture cells. They simply 'disappear'.

When an innocent civilian disappears in the custody of security forces, the general public do not take it lying down. Citizens Committees often called the Joint Action Committees (JACs) are formed and people come out on the streets, hold mass demonstrations, hold relay hunger strikes, submit memoranda to the authorities and the local media gives wide coverage. The law courts and sometimes even the civil administration are a little more receptive. As a result, many such cases are well documented. The IPIC visited three of such families of Tayab Ali, Laishram Bijoykumar and Kanujam Loken.

Tayab Ali Case: Mohamad Tayab Ali, aged about 35 years of Kairang Muslim Mayai Leikai, Imphal East, worked as a saleman at a shop in Thangal Bazar Imphal. He was picked up by some armed persons who came in two Maruti vans without number plates (suspected to be Assam Rifles personnel in plain clothes) at around 10.00 a.m. on July 25, 1999 near Paomei Colony, Sangakpam Lamkhai. His moped was also put into the other van. Persons known to Tayab Ali traveling in a taxi saw the incident and followed the Maruti vans and saw them entering the southern gate of the 17 Assam Rifles at Kangla.

On inquiry by relatives of Tayab Ali the Assam Rifles officials told them that he would be handed over to the Heingang Police Station the next day. However, he was never handed over. Thereafter the relatives filed a complaint to the Heingang Police Station, the Director General of Police and the Manipur Human Rights Commission (MHRC). As the police report submitted to the MHRC confirmed the arrest after examining the eyewitnesses the case was referred to the NHRC. The matter was placed before the NHRC on December 8, 1999, but no positive action is reported from the side of the NHRC.

The Families of the Involuntarily Disappeared's Association, Manipur (FIDAM) moved a Habeas Corpus petition before the Gauhati High Court Imphal Bench registered as Writ Petition (Cril.) no. 5 of 2000. The Assam Rifles filed an affidavit denying the arrest of Tayab Ali in the Court. Being dissatisfied with the reply of the Assam Rifles, on January 24, 2001 the High Court directed the District and Sessions Judge, Manipur East to inquiry into the matter and to submit the report within two months. Even though FIDAM had placed all the eyewitnesses before the Court, the matter is still pending even after the expiry of 14 months.

IPIC visited the family of Tayab Ali at his house and spoke to his wife, father, mother and brother and confirmed the above stated facts. Laishram Bijoykumar Case: Laishram Bijoykumar, aged about 34 (at the time of disappearance) of Thangmeiband Hijam Leikai, Imphal West District, a former student leader who did Moreh business was abducted by Hindi speaking armed personnel in militatary uniform from his house on the intervening night of June 4-5 1996. Thereafter, he was never seen by his family and friends.

Widespread public protest followed but to no consequence as the authorities turned a deaf ear. On June 7, 1996, Bijoykumar's father moved a writ of Habeas Corpus, registered as Civil Rule (HC) No. 33 of 1996 in the Gauhati High Court, Imphal Bench. In their Counter Affidavit, the security forces denied having arrested Bijoykumar. The High Court ordered the District and Sessions Judge, Manipur East to conduct an inquiry into the circumstances of the disappearance. After examining the statements of the witnesses, the District and Sessions Judge submitted his report and findings to the High Court on March 20, 1998. As the report was not brought before the High Court, a Division Bench of the High Court directed the Registrar of the Imphal Bench of the Gauhati High Court to make an inquiry into the matter. On December 8, 1999, the Registrar reported that the inquiry report was found missing from the custody of the High Court. On January 28, 2000, the Division Bench directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate into the matter and reconstruct the inquiry report.

The IPIC visited the house of Laishram Bijoykumar and recorded the statements of Shri Laishram Babu Singh and his elder sister Kumari. Laishram Bisheshori Devi who was also an eyewitness to the abduction of Bijoykumar. Laishram Bisheshori Devi told the Commission that on June 4, 1996 at about 1 p.m. she head some noise outside her house. She also heard sounds of barking by dogs. Subsequently, she heard the knocking on her door When she opened the door, four persons entered with their guns pointing at her. They spoke in Hindi, asking her to go inside the room. Thereafter they started searching the room even opening the doors of the Almirah (cupboard) in the room. At that time, five persons including herself, her younger sister, namely Sanjita Devi, Priya Devi and her sister-in-law Thoibi Devi and a child, namely Phileplen aged about 4 years were there while making the search.

One of the armed persons picked up a photograph of her younger brother the late Surjit and asked her as to where the gun was kept. The said photograph was of her younger brother holding a gun. The person asked about the gun in Hindi. But she replied in Manipuri, saying that her younger brother had died and she did not know as to where the gun was. At the same time her younger sister Priya Devi told him in Hindi the same thing. Out of the four armed persons who came there that night, one was Manipuri and others were non-Manipuri. Their faces were covered/ hooded. One of them did not say anything while he was in the room. When she spoke in Manipuri, one of them acted as if he understood the language and from that she presumed that he was a Manipuri. The said Manipuri was shorter than the other three persons. The four armed persons took away with them a torchlight, the aforementioned photograph of her younger brother and a Samurai sword. They were inside the room for a period of about 45 minutes.

While these four armed persons were entering into her room she could see that three or four other persons entered into the room of her younger brother Bijoy Singh who was in a room adjacent to hers. The four armed persons prevented her younger sister and sister-in-law from following them but they were asked not to come out. They further told them not to make noise and threatened them that if they move out of the room they would be shot at. She also could see that some of the said armed persons who entered into the room of her younger brother Bijoy Singh, took him out along with them. She did not move out of the room but she heard some persons talking near the gate, which was about at the distance of about 70 feet from her house. She also could hear some one saying in Manipuri through a Wireless set "hayeng pung nipanda" (tomorrow at 8 a.m.). Thereafter, she could not hear anything. After about 10 or 15 minutes she went out of the room but she could not see any person there. Kangujam Loken: On September 23, 1980 at about 3.00 p.m. while Loken Singh was at his gate of Kongman Okram Chuthek Makha, a team of military personnel of Jammu and Kashmir Rifles came in two civilians jeeps and illegally arrested him. Thereafter he was taken in one of the jeeps after being blindfolded. On the same day in the same area two other youths namely Thokchom Lokendro and Kangujam Iboyaima were also arrested in a similar manner.

On September 24,1980 the brother of Kangujam Loken filed a complaint with the Singjamei Police Station requesting for the recovery of his younger brother. The father of Thokchom Lokendro also lodged a similar complaint. Family members came to know from their own sources that the two youths were detained and tortured inside the compound of the Assam Rifles situated at Kangla, Imphal.

On September 26, 1980 at about 7 p.m. Kangujam Iboyaima was released without giving any reason for his arrest and detention. The family confirmed from him that Kangujam Laken was in the custody of the AR. Assuming that Loken would be released soon as was done in the case of Iboyaima, they waited. But that did not happen. On October 14, 1980 his brother filed a petition with the IGP Government of Manipur. On February 27, 1981 the mothers of Loken and Lokendro filed a representation to the Government of Manipur and GOC M-sector of the India Army for tracing out the whereabout of their sons. Having no other recourse the mothers moved Habeas Corpus petitions to the Gauhati High Court, Imphal bench which are being registered as Civil Rule no. 128 of 1981 and Civil Rule no. 129 of 1981. The petitions were however rejected by the High Court on September 8, 1981 based on the claim of the army that the two youths were already released. Appeals were filed being Write Appeal no. 21 and 20 of 1981, which were also dismissed.

Again appeals were preferred to the Supreme Court of India, which were being registered as Criminal Appeals no. 580 and 581 of 1989. The Supreme Court directed the District Judge, Manipur to conduct an inquiry to ascertain the facts. The inquiry reports, submitted on October 6, 1990 to the Supreme Court, established that Loken and Lokendro were arrested by J&K Rifles and "were not released yet". SC also directed the Union of India to pay a sum of Rs. 1,25,000/- each to the mothers. In 1999, the family members filed damage suits for the recovery of Rs. 15,00,000/- each before the Civil Judge Senior Division no. 1 Manipur which are being registered as Civil Miscl. Case no. 174 and 175 of 1999. The matter is still pending in the Court.

Kangujam Ranjit, brother of Kangujam Loken testified before the IPIC. According to him the Armed Force Special Powers Act, 1958 came into force in Manipur on September 8, 1980. The abduction of his brother by the army was on September 23, 1980, the first case of its kind. The J & K Army picked up three people from his locality out of which only one returned home. He gave evidence of what he saw inside the army camp namely the custody and torture of the other two.

The writ petition was filed and rejected time and again, the matter finally went up to the Supreme Court of India. A Sessions Judge conducted an inquiry. The inquiry found the evidence of abduction and torture to be accurate. Interim relief of 1,25,000/- for each of the families of the disappeared was ordered. The Supreme Court also ordered the prosecution of the officer but nothing was done.

Combat Law, Volume 2, Issue 1
April-May 2003

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