The National Human Rights Commission has sought an explanation from the Manipur Chief Secretary as to why reports of 111 cases, which were reported as police encounter cases, were not forwarded to the Commission. The NHRC, in an order, stated that the Commission had not been receiving any report from the Manipur government.

It also directed the Manipur government to pay Rs.5 lakh as relief to the next of kin of R.K. Sanjoaba, nephew of the former Manipur Chief Minister, R.K. Jaichandra Singh, who was killed in an alleged fake encounter in broad daylight on October 20, 2004, at Sagolband Khongnang Hogaibi, Imphal.

The Commission further directed the Manipur Chief Secretary to send to the Commission the proof of payment within six weeks. The order was passed on a complaint lodged with the Commission by director of Asian Centre for Human Rights (AHRC) Suhas Chakma.

Referring to the case, the Commission stated in its order passed on January 28 that a show cause notice was served to the State government followed by a reminder, but there was no response. “The Commission presumes that the State has nothing to say in this matter,” it added.

The NHRC observed in its order: “In the instant case, the police have put up a theory that it is a case of accidental firing and the person suffered injuries as a consequence of which he died. The deceased and one other person were returning home on their scooter which was stopped on the way by some unknown personnel of the Manipur Police, which was headed by a woman officer.

In the scuffle that took place, one of the policemen took out a weapon and shot him on his chest from point blank range, as a result of which he died on the spot. It is suggested that during the course of investigation it was revealed that the person spoke some slang language, as a result of which the escorts got down from the vehicle.

The same unknown person forcibly snatched the fibre stick from the escort and started beating the personnel, including the complainant and the unknown person is alleged to have embraced the complainant and tried to snatch his service pistol. In the scuffle some rounds were accidentally fired, which hit the person and he died on the spot. The police have registered a case and charge sheet is also filed.

“The theory propounded by the police is hard to believe. For some utterances, no police will come down and enter into a scuffle with the persons moving on the road. It is also required to be noted that in the post-mortem report, the expert opined that the injury was caused from a distant range, and, if it would have been fired in the manner in which it is narrated, then there would have been blackening and tattooing. The doctor’s opinion is an independent opinion and cannot be disregarded…. It is also hard to believe that three police personnel could not control one person who was without any weapon in his hands and it appears from the aforesaid picture that a story is created as if crime is not committed and is an accidental fire. No reliance can be placed on such theory. It is a case of killing of a person who was totally innocent.”

“The order of the NHRC is historic considering the systematic fake encounter killings by the Manipur Police under the guise of joint operations with the Central armed forces. The Manipur government must bear in mind that even if the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act is imposed, the central armed forces are legally required to operate under the command of the police in aid of civil administration and the Police are duty bound to report to the NHRC” stated Mr Suhas Chakma, hailing the order.