The Manipur police have booked a three-member fact-finding team of the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) under penal provisions for conspiracy to wage war against the Government of India, assaulting President/Governor with the intent of compelling them to exercise a power, making statements prejudicial to national integration, defamation and promoting enmity among two groups and inciting riots, for concluding that the ethnic conflict under way in Manipur was “state-sponsored violence”.
This comes even as the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) on Monday condemned the registration of the FIR and asked the State government to “stop criminalising human rights work”.
The FIR was registered at the Imphal police station in Imphal West District on July 8, based on a complaint received from 53-year-old resident S. Liben Singh. The case has been registered against CPI leader Annie Raja (also General Secretary of the NFIW), NFIW National Secretary, Nisha Sidhu, and independent Delhi-based lawyer Deeksha Dwivedi.
Sections added to the FIR include 121-A (conspiracy to wage war against the Government of India), 124 (assaulting President/Governor with the intent to compel or restrain the exercise of any lawful power), 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc.), 153-B (imputations, assertion prejudicial to national integration), 499, 504, 505(2), and 34 of the Indian Penal Code.
In the complaint, Mr. Singh alleged that by concluding that the ethnic conflict in Manipur was “state-sponsored without any conclusive evidence”, the accused were allegedly “conspiring to overthrow a democratically elected government by instigating people to wage war against the government”.
The complaint alleged that Ms. Raja, Ms. Sidhu, and Ms. Dwivedi had “abused” the Meira Paibis (women torch-bearers), women activists from the Meitei community, by calling their refusal to accept Chief Minister N. Biren Singh’s resignation a “stage-managed drama”.
The fact-finding team of the NFIW had visited Manipur between June 28 and July 1, following which they held a presser in Imphal and later another one in Delhi to announce their findings. The team had also met with the Meira Paibis of Ima Keithel women’s market in Imphal during their visit.
The Meira Paibis have been protesting against the Central forces in the State for the last two months, even as the Army has said that their operations have at multiple times been obstructed by “protests of civilian women’s groups” without naming any group.
In its statement, the NFIW had concluded that Manipur violence was a “state-sponsored violence” and that “the general sense which prevails in both communities is unhappiness and anger with the Chief Minister over his mishandling of the situation”.
In the FIR, the complainant also says, “As such, the present violence in Manipur is directly connected with the government policy on war against drugs and poppy plantations and also the initiative taken up for identification of illegal immigrants.”
In the complaint, Mr. Singh attached details of poppy and cannabis fields destroyed by the State government in the last 10 years — making a comparison of such action taken when the government was being run by Congress Chief Minister O. Ibobi Singh and in the time that Mr. Biren Singh has been Chief Minister.
Meanwhile, in separate statements issued on Monday, the AIDWA and the PUCL demanded that the charges against the fact-finding team be withdrawn immediately and effective measures be taken to restore peace.