Asian Centre for Human Rights

Dedicated to promotion and protection of human rights in Asia



I. Overview

The unusual form of protest by some members of Meira Paibis, women organisations, who stripped in front of the Kangla Fort, then headquarters of the Assam Rifles, on 15 July 2004 and an equally unprecedented civil disobedience movement in Manipur in July and August 2004 put the spotlight on the human rights violations in Manipur. The alleged extrajudicial execution of Thangjam Manorama Devi on the night of 11 July 2004 by the Assam Rifles personnel sparked the protests demanding justice and the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) of 1958.

An array of leaders from the central government including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Manipur in 2004. In November 2004, Prime Minister formally handed over the Kangla Fort to the State government. In December, a Committee to Review the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) of 1958 was established. But peace remained elusive in Manipur.

There are about two dozens armed opposition groups in Manipur. The main groups are United National Liberation Front (UNLF), People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK), Kanglei Yaol Kanba Lup (KYKL), People’s United Liberation Front (PULF), North East Minority Peoples Front (NEMPF), Islamic National Front, Islamic Revolutionary Front (IRF), United Islamic Liberation Army (UILA), both Issac-Muivah and Kaplang factions of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland, Kuki National Army (KNA), Kuki National Front (KNF), Kuki Revolutionary Army (KRA) and Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA). [1]

While the precise number of central armed forces such as the Assam Rifles, Gorkha Rifles, Border Security Force personnel etc deployed in Manipur is not known, 16 additional companies of central paramilitary forces were deployed after the civil disobedience movement started on 15 July 2004. [2]

The security forces were responsible for systematic and gross human rights violations including arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, rape and extrajudicial execution.

Although on 10 May 2004, the Gauhati High Court found the 14 Sikh Light infantry guilty of extrajudicially killing a civilian, T Moni in 1998, [3] most extrajudicial executions go unpunished. In 2004, the State government ordered eight inquiries into the alleged extrajudicial executions of 10 persons including 75-year-old retired school teacher, L.D. Rengtuiwan. Not a single report has been made public.

While altogether 264 cadres belonging to different banned organisations have reportedly been detained under the National Security Act (NSA) since January 2002 to 31 May 2004, [4] the State government also used the NSA to suppress the civil disobedience movement against the AFSPA. On 19 August 2004, the State government of Manipur detained 20 persons under National Security Act to suppress the civil disobedience movement against the AFSPA of 1958. [5] On 20 August 2004, the State Government slapped the National Security Act on 12 more persons, including 11 women who were picked up from Moirang Hanuba Leirak on 19 August 2004 on charges of burning the national flag. [6]

The armed opposition groups have also been responsible for systematic violations of international humanitarian law standards such as kidnapping, hostage taking, extortion and killings. On 22 March 2004, Huidrom Shyamsunder alias Amujao, son of H Ibomcha of Wabagai Awang Leika, was reportedly shot dead at a place near Oriental Social Association, Wabagai Awang Leikai by the PREPAK. [7]

The conflict between the security forces and the armed opposition groups led to internal displacement. Over 600 villagers of ten remote villages in and around Sajik Tampak area, near the Indo-Myanmar border, in Chandel district had to flee leaving behind all their belongings in the wake of a flush out operation launched by the security forces against the armed opposition groups in April 2004. [8] The villagers’ movements were restricted and any goods brought from outside were thoroughly checked. Restriction was even imposed on the farmers to sow seeds for cultivation in their paddy fields. As a result some of the villagers reportedly suffered from starvation. [9]

[1] . Strength of Manipur commandos to be increased to 1800, The Assam Tribune, 31 October 2004

[2] . The Imphal Free Press, Imphal, August 21, 2004

[3] . Army fined for custodial death, The Sangaiexpress, 4 June 2004

[4] . 264 UG cadres detained under NSA in last two years, The Kanglaonline, 7 June 2004

[5] . 20 detained under NSA, The Kanglaonline, 20 August 2004

[6] . Another 12 persons including 11 women detained under NSA, The Sangaiexpress, 21 August 2004

[7] .  The Assam Tribune, Guwahati, 27 March 2004

[8] . Over 600 villagers flee Sajik Tampak areas, The Assam Tribune, 8 May 2004

[9] .  Army takes control of Sajik Tampak village, The Sangaiexpress, 7 May 2004