States Round Up Issue-01 July to September 2010 Index Page
Full version of the report

Manipur



I. Highlight: Blockade overshadows the plight of the Hill Districts

During July-September 2010, the spate of bandhs and blockades continued in Manipur ruled by Indian National Congress. The much publicized 68-days economic blockade on National Highways 39 and 53 from April to June 2010 by United Naga Council and other Naga bodies of Manipur on the issues relating to the holding of elections to the six Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) in Naga inhabited regions of the state had virtually paralysed normal life across the state. The economic blockade was finally lifted on 18 June 2010 after the leaders of Naga Students’ Federation met the Union Home Minister and the Prime Minister in New Delhi. [1]

Yet, Manipur witnessed another extended phase of blockade on the National Highways 39 and 53 called by the United Naga Council (UNC) between 4 August 2010 [2] and 18 September 2010. On 14 September 2010, a delegation of the UNC met Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram and the economic blockade was lifted on 18 September 2010. [3]

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Ibobi Singh organised two round table of talks for discussing the amendments to the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Act, 1971. The first round table was held on3 August 2010 at Imphal and the second on 7 August 2010 at Senapati in which representatives of the Central Government also participated. However, the representatives of the Nagas did not participate in the round table talks. [4]

II. Violations of civil and political rights

The security forces in Manipur were accused of torture and extrajudicial killings. In January 2010, acting on a complaint filed by the Asian Centre for Human Rights the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) directed the state government to explain why reports were not being forwarded in 111 cases of alleged fake encounters in the state. [5]

The security forces continued to enjoy blanket impunity. The extrajudicial killing of Chungkham Sanajit and Mrs Thokchom Rabina by Manipur Police Commandos in a fake encounter at Maimu Pharmacy near Gambhir Singh Shopping Arcade at the BT Road area in Imphal on 23 July 2010 [6] is a clear example. Despite clear evidence, the State government failed to take any action against the accused.

Finally, the case of Sanajit and Rabina was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after the family moved the Guwahati High Court. In September 2010, the CBI charged nine Manipur Police Commandos with the cold-blooded murder. The CBI found eight of the nine accused of directly involved in the killing. However, none of the accused commandos was arrested for the next 18 days after the chargesheet was filed. On 27 September 2010, when the accused applied for bail, the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Imphal (West) granted them bail despite the offence being a non-bailable offence. Further, only seven out of the nine accused were suspended. Hijam Devendra Singh, Officer in-Charge of the Imphal Bazar Unit and Yumnam Munal Singh, the then Officer in-Charge of the city, continued to function as law enforcement officers. [7]

In a landmark judgment, the Gauhati High Court on 31 August 2010 dismissed two writ appeals of the Assam Rifles [8] and directed the state government of Manipur to act on the report of the C. Upendra Commission in the alleged rape and extrajudicial killing of Ms Thangjam Manorama in July 2004. The Assam Rifles had challenged the validity of the Commission arguing that they are governed under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and only the Centre can set up a commission of inquiry, not the state government. [9]

In another judgment in August 2010, the Imphal Bench of the Gauhati High Court directed the state government to pay a compensation of Rs 5 lakhs to the family of a custodial death victim Kshetrimayum Meghamani Singh who died in police custody on 21 January 2006. The Court also directed the Director General of Police, Manipur to conduct an enquiry in view of the clear finding of the custodial death of Kshetrimayum Meghamani Singh. The deceased’s father had filed a writ petition before the High Court on 28 March 2006 alleging that Kshetrimayum Meghamani Singh was tortured to death by the police. [10]

The NHRC recorded a total of 29 cases of human rights violations by the police in Manipur during 2009-2010 (as on 28 February 2010). [11] The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) also documented cases of torture in custody of the army and Manipur Police Commandos during July-September 2010. Of these two cases, one died due to the alleged torture.

On the night of 11 August 2010, Naorem Modhu Singh (26 years), son of N Mangoljao, died due to alleged torture in the custody of the combined team of 12th Madras Regiment and Manipur Police Cammandos at Khoijumantabi village under Kumbi police station in Bishnupur district. Naorem Modhu Singh was picked up along with his cousin Naorem Bungochandra by the combined team from his residence on the suspicion of having links with a banned militant group. In its report to the police, the 12th Madras Regiment claimed that the deceased collapsed while he was in their custody and he was taken to an army hospital located at Sendra in Bishnupur district where doctors declared him dead on arrival. However, the deceased’s family members alleged that Naorem Modhu Singh was tortured to death in the custody of the combined forces. [12]

47-year-old Leimakhujam Kokulo Singh, a physically handicap, was allegedly tortured in the custody of Maratha Light Infantry at their camp near Patsoi Lai Umang along the Imphal-Sangaithel Road in Imphal West district from 3-4 August 2010. The victim was picked up by the personnel while returning home along with his wife and 11 others in a passenger vehicle from Wahengbam Leikai in Imphal. He was dragged into a vehicle, blindfolded with his hands tied together at the front and taken to their camp. At the camp, the victim was asked to identify three names. When the victim failed to identify the names, the security personnel subjected him to torture the entire night and administered electric shocks twice. On 4 August 2010, a team of Maninpur police commandos came to the room who slapped him several times and beat him with a club in the head when he failed to identify the three names. On the same day, the victim was handed over to the Patsoi police station. On 5 August 2010, the victim was produced before a court which sent him to police custody. The victim was released on bail on 9 August 2010. [13]

III. Abuses by the AOGs

There are reportedly over 20 armed opposition groups (AOGs) operating in Manipur. [14] The AOGs were responsible for gross violations of international humanitarian law including violation of the right to life, torture and kidnapping for ransom.

In order to create fear, the AOGs shot the victims and then released them. In August 2010, [15] Ms Khangembam Sharmila, Head of Mongsangei Makha Leikai Gram Panchayat, was kidnapped along with her relative, Priyoranjan (24 years) by four suspected cadres of Kangleipak Communist Party-Mobile Task Force. The group released Ms Priyoranjan after shooting her in the leg and demanded a ransom of Rs 12 lakh for the release of Ms Khangembam Sharmila. [16]

a. Killings

On the night of 26 July 2010, Mrs. Nongthombam Indira (45 years), wife of N Tomba, was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen suspected to be cadres of the AOG at Sabungkhok village Maya Leikai under Lamlai police station in Ukhrul district. The victim was called outside her house and shot dead in front of her children. [17]

On 29 July 2010, two non-Manipuri migrant workers were shot dead in a village in Ukhrul district. Both the deceased were eking out a living as scrap dealers. [18]

On the night of 24 August 2010, Mohon Shaha, a migrant labourer, was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen at Wahengbam Leikai area in Imphal. Mohon Shaha became the fifth migrant to be killed by unidentified gunmen since 6 January 2010. [19]

The AOGs specifically targeted non-Manipuri migrant workers. As of August 2010, 34 migrant labourers were killed by unidentified gunmen in the state since February 2009. No AOG claimed responsibility for these attacks on migrant workers, but the police blamed the AOGs. [20] Earlier, the Revolutionary People’s Front (RPF), a proscribed organisation, asked the non-Manipuris who had settled in the State after 15 October 1949 to leave Manipur by 31 May 2010.  The RPF further demanded that those who had come to the State before 15 October 1949 to get registered with the RPF along with supporting documents on or before 14 October 2010. [21]

b. Abduction for extortion

Extortion by AOGs continued to be widespread in Manipur. Some of the targets include government officials, shops, factories, schools, media, banks and hospitals. During July-September 2010, several persons were kidnapped for extortion.

On 20 July 2010, Punal Chakraborty, a resident of Tripura and a post graduate student of Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), was rescued by police from Kangvai area of Churachandpur district. The victim was kidnapped by suspected cadres of the United Kuki Liberation Army (UKLA) from Molnom area along Tidim road on the same day. [22]

On 19 July 2010, Yumnam Manoba (21 years), son of Y Megha of Yourbung Maning Leikai, was kidnapped by six suspected cadres of KCP (MTF) City Meetei from his home in Imphal East district. The kidnappers reportedly demanded Rs 10 crore for his release. [23]

On 13 September 2010, a woman doctor identified as RK Joymati Devi and a nurse identified as Kavita Devi working at Primary Health Centre, Mekola were abducted by suspected KCP-Mobile Task Force cadres on the pretext of false medical emergency call. The victims were abducted for failure of the Primary Health Centre to pay money to the group. Both the victims were rescued unharmed by a combined team of the 39th Assam Rifles and Police Commando from Shantipur village. [24]

On the night of 31 August 2010, T Modhu, a retired Superintendent of Taxation Department and two others were injured when suspected cadres of an armed group lobbed a grenade at the residence of T Modhu at Chingmeirong area in Imphal West district. The police claimed that the attack was due to refusal to pay extortion. [25]

On 31 August 2010, Laishram Ibomcha and Elangbam Pishak, officials of Food Corporation of India were abducted by unidentified gunmen at Senapati Bazar while they were waiting to board a bus for Imphal. The gunmen had reportedly demanded Rs. 2 lakhs for their release. [26]

On 1 September 2010, suspected underground cadres kidnapped Swami Kanta Singh, Senior Officer of Public Health Engineering Department at gunpoint from Kwakeithel area for extortion. [27]

Failure to comply with the extortion demands often leads to torture by the AOGs.

On 17 August 2010, three employees of the Manipur Tribal Development Corporation (MTDC) identified as Md Sallaudin (Executive Engineer), Samuel Hmar (Section Officer) and Md Nasir (driver) were beaten up with wooden sticks by two cadres of an AOG who forcefully intruded into the office for the failure of the staff to comply with their extortion demand. One of the victims Md Nasir sustained head injuries. Later, the two cadres forcibly took away Md Sallaudin and two other staff identified as W Chandramani (Assistant Engineer) and E Chandrakumar (Accountant). All the three were later released at Keisampat Thiyam Leikai. [28]

On 25 August 2010, Jangchon (65 years), chief of L. Songtun village and Khaineipau (50 years) of Leilon village were abducted and allegedly tortured by suspected cadres of the Kuki Revolutionary Army at Molding under Senapati district. The victims had failed to comply with their extortion demand. [29]

c. Freedom of the press

The AOGs targeted the media persons and pressurize them to become their mouthpiece. In Manipur, media personnel had to work under constant threat from different armed opposition groups.

Ten journalists were killed by AOGs in Manipur so far. [30] Recently, Kangeipak-Communist Party (KCP-Lanchaba faction) allegedly threatened media personnel after many publication houses did not publish a media release of the group in public interest. [31]

On 22 July 2010, journalists in Manipur staged a sit-in protest to close down all newspapers publications indefinitely to protest the threat to the life to Singlianmang Guite of the Sangai Express. Singlianmang Guite was threatened by three armed persons identifying themselves as cadres of the militant outfit Hmar People’s Convention Democratic (HPC-D) over the publication of a news item. [32]

In August 2010, Manipur Hill Journalists Union (MHJU) suspended publication of newspapers in Churachandpur district after PK Tombing, a reporter of Lamka Post, was threatened by Kuki National Front (MC). PK Tombing had been receiving threats from one Lhunjang, who identified himself as the Finance Secretary of the KNF (MC) both verbally and through mobile SMSs over the publication of a news item exposing the misappropriation of 6478.2 quintals of rice meant for Hot Cook Meal under Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) on 29 July 2010. [33]

IV. Violations of women’s rights

The conditions of the widows of conflict have been deplorable in Manipur. The recent economic blockade on the two national highways had hit hard these widows. Due to the apathy of the government, these widows could not obtain any benefits under the PDS and widow schemes. About 90 per cent of the widows have no Below Poverty Line (BPL) cards. Even the 10 per cent of widows having BPL cards were not provided commodities at subsidized rates. Earlier, the Conflict Widows Forum had submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister and the Governor for the provision of widow’s pension scheme, widow benefit scheme, BPL, and health and education. [34]

The state government had provided compensation to some widows ranging from Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 under the Centrally-sponsored scheme, Widow Pension Scheme, a one-time benefit after their husband’s death. However, many widows did not get the complete amount while others were simply ignorant about the scheme.[35]

V. Violations of the rights of the child

The AOGs targeted children for alleged recruitment in their forces. The AOGs had resorted to recruiting child soldiers through paid agents. [36]

In July 2010, Khundrakpam Bitanjit and Saikhom Sidhanta (both aged about 16 years), residents of Heirok were abducted by persons identified as O Biju and O Naba. Later, one of the abductors O Biju who was caught by police while abducting another minor identified as 13-year-old Soibam Ronaldo from Wangjing in Thoubal revealed that children were being sold to the AOGs. [37] In August 2010, Mrs Sobita Devi, a mother of an abducted child, alleged that children were being sold by abductors to a militant outfit for Rs. 30,000 each. [38]

Trafficking of children was on the rise in Manipur. Recently, as many as 76 children from Manipur were found trafficked and later rescued from Chennai in Tamil Nadu. As of 18 February 2010, about 158 children were reportedly trafficked since 2008 from the state. The traffickers targeted illiterate and poor parents in most of the cases. The local agents deceived the ignorant parents with false promises of giving free education and jobs to the children. [39]

On 17 September 2010, three children of Longmai in Tamenglong district were rescued by their parents from Bishnupur Bus Parking, Moirang Leikai and Imphal while they were about to board a bus. The children revealed that they were going to meet one Michael Nepali, a contact person for their journey to Chennai to earn a livelihood. [40]

VI. Violations of the ESCRs in the Hill Districts

Development failed to reach several areas of the state in particular the hill districts. The continued neglect by the government has led to devlopment of the sentiment of total alienation from Imphal Valley.

On 15 August 2010, the people of Kasom Khullen Sub-division in Ukhrul district boycotted the 64th Independence Day as a mark of protest against lack of development in the sub-division. [41]

The hill districts were lacking in all aspect of development including education, and health due to government’s apathy.

Right to education

Educational facilities in the Manipur Hill Districts areas remained neglected. In Chandel district, the condition of existing schools was deplorable with lack of school infrastructure, building, teaching materials and furniture. As a result, most of the schools of the district were almost non-functional.

On 14 September 2010, the Thadou Students Association submitted a memorandum to the State Education Minister L Jayentakumar Singh appealing for educational reforms in Chandel district. [42]

There are nine Aimol tribal villages under Chandel district namely Aimol Khullen, Aimol Chandonpokpi, Aimol Ngairong, Aimol Khoidomphai, Aimol Tampak, Aimol Chingnunghud, Aimol Khunyai, Aimol Kumbirol and Aimol Setu, having a population of about 4,000 persons. However, there is not a single high school in these nine villages, except for some primary and junior high schools. Even, the conditions of these schools remained deplorable with no proper building, classrooms, playground and toilets. The residents of these villages had complained several times but the authorities failed to take steps to improve the schools. [43]

Right to health

Manipur is one of the 18 states of India selected for the implementation of National Rural Health Mission (2005-2012) for uplifting the health conditions of the people of rural areas. [44]  However, the state failed to implement the programmes under the National Rural Health Mission in the areas where it is most needed.

There was no health centre for a population of about 600 persons in the Kharam Pallel village in Senapati district. During medical emergency, the villagers had to carry the patients up to the NH-53 to catch vehicles. There is no pharmacy and doctors in the village. Only one Asha was working under the National Rural Health Mission for the entire village as on 9 August 2010. [45]
Similarly, the people of several villages under Kasom Khullen Sub-Division in Ukhrul district had to take ailing persons to other areas due to lack of health centres. [46]

Endnotes:
1. HM’s Statement in Parliament on Blockade of National Highways, Press Release, Ministry of  Home Affairs, 19 August 2010
2. Manipur: Another economic blockade from tomorrow, The Hindustan Times, 3 August 2010
3. Report Card of Ministry of Home Affairs for September, 2010
4. HM’s Statement in Parliament on Blockade of National Highways, Press Release, Ministry of  Home Affairs, 19 August 2010
5. ACHR Impact: Manipur directed to explain 111 fake encounters, available at: www.achrweb.org
6. Complaint of Asian Centre for Human Rights to National Human Rights Commission, 3 August 2009
7. It was cold-blooded murder. But Manipur’s Commandos have been granted bail, Tehelka, Vol 7, Issue 43, Dated October 30, 2010
8. HC nod for probe panel, The Telegraph, 6 September 2010
9. Manorama Devi rape and murder: Assam Rifles indicted, NDTV, 11 September 2010
10. HC tells govt to pay Rs. 5 lakh to kin of custodial death victim, Kanglaonline, 25 August 2010
11. Figures of Police Atrocities against prisoners reported to NHRC from 1 April 2006 to 28 February 2010, Lok Sabha, Unstarred Question No 2001 Answered on 09.03.2010
12. Complaint of Asian Centre for Human Rights to National Human Rights Commission, 13 August 2010
13. Complaint of Asian Centre for Human Rights to National Human Rights Commisson, 27 August 2010
14. Manipur scribes stop newspaper publications to protest threat to comrade, Thaindian News, 23 July 2010
15. Youth shot at in Manipur, The Sentinel, 28 August 2010
16. Manipur militants abduct village council head, The Sentinel, 17 September 2010
17. Imphal-Ukhrul road blocked over killing of housewife, Imphal Free Press, 27 July 2010
18. Two migrant workers shot dead, The Hindu, 1 August 2010
19. Fear grips Non-Manipuris, Sinlung News, 27 August 2010
20. Ibid
21. Two migrant workers shot dead, The Hindu, 1 August 2010
22. Three including two minor boys kidnapped, Abducted PG student of RIMS rescued by police, E-Pao,  20 July 2010
23. Ibid
24. Militants in Manipur want journalists and doctors to follow their diktats, 22 September 2010
25. 3 injured in Manipur grenade explosion, The Assam Tribune, 2 September 2010
26. SE of PHED kidnapped, E-Pao.net, 3 September 2010
27. Senior Manipur govt official kidnapped, The Arunachal Times, 3 September 2010
28. Militants beat up govt officers in Manipur, Kanglaonline, 18 August 2010
29. Brutal assault on village chief, accomplice, Kanglaonline, 26 August 2010
30. Manipur scribes stop newspaper publications to protest threat to comrade, Thaindian News, 23 July 2010
31. Militants in Manipur want journalists and doctors to follow their diktats, 22 September 2010
32. Manipur scribes stop newspaper publications to protest threat to comrade, Thaindian News, 23 July 2010
33. Newspaper publications suspended in Ccpur, E-Pao, 24 August 2010
34. Widows cite sufferings, call for end to blockade, Imphal Free Press, 7 August 2010
35. Manipur conflict widows cry for help, The Telegraph, 12 June 2010
36. Villagers turn violent as children are lured to rebel camps, The Hindu, 6 September 2010
37. Militants continue abducting children in Manipur, The Sentinel, 11 August 2010
38. Ibid
39. 158 children reported trafficked during 2008-10, Imphal Free Press, 18 February 2010
40. NGO Appeals Manipur Govt to Check Child Trafficking, Sinlung, 22 September 2010
41. I-Day boycott over govt apathy, Imphal Free Press, 17 August 2010
42. Appeal for educational reforms in Chandel, Kanglaonline, 23 September 2010
43. An education system which has failed to deliver since the 60’s, Imphal Free Press, 22 August 2010
44. “Need to focus on public health” Imphal Free Press, available at: http://ifp.co.in/shownews.php?newsid=11149
45. Historic ties with Imphal but no development at Kharam Pallel, Imphal Free Press, 9 August 2010
46. Roads, health among endless problems of Ukhrul villages, Imphal Free Press, 25 July 2010
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