Assam Rifles files sedition case against Imphal civil society group

An FIR was registered against the convenor of Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity, after the outfit urged people not to surrender weapons; charges of sedition, defamation, promoting enmity between groups

July 21, 2023 09:37 pm | Updated July 22, 2023 06:58 am IST - NEW DELHI

A woman is seen in a relief centre for displaced the Meitei community in Moirang, in Manipur on June 21, 2023. Imphal civil society group COCOMI has alleged that a large number of women protestors were assaulted by the Indian Army in the Moirang area of Manipur’s Bishnupur district on June 30, 2023.  

A woman is seen in a relief centre for displaced the Meitei community in Moirang, in Manipur on June 21, 2023. Imphal civil society group COCOMI has alleged that a large number of women protestors were assaulted by the Indian Army in the Moirang area of Manipur’s Bishnupur district on June 30, 2023.   | Photo Credit: AP

The Assam Rifles has registered a case of sedition and defamation against the chief of the Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI), an influential civil society group in Imphal.

A defence source said that a First Information Report (FIR) was registered against COCOMI on July 10, after the outfit gave a call to people “not to surrender weapons.”

After ethnic violence erupted in the State on May 3, more than 4,000 weapons and lakhs of ammunition were either robbed or taken away from police armouries. Despite an appeal made by Home Minister Amit Shah when he visited the State from May 29 to June 1, only a little over 1,600 weapons have been recovered by the police or surrendered by the public. A large number of arms that are still with the public have become a cause of concern for security forces.

‘Sedition, promoting enmity’

The FIR has been registered against Jitendra Ningomba, convener of COCOMI, at the Churachandpur police station, under Section 124 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), pertaining to sedition; Section 153 A IPC, promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony; Section 500 IPC, punishment for defamation; and Section 505 IPC for offence in any place of worship. Mr. Ningomba said that he was not aware about the case. 

COCOMI has alleged that a large number of women protestors were assaulted by the Indian Army in the Moirang area of Bishnupur on June 30. The army has denied the allegation.

In a memorandum to the Home Minister on June 4, COCOMI demanded that the Assam Rifles be replaced with any other central armed police force, adding that local youths were not willing to surrender arms amid attacks by “Kuki terrorists.”

Deal with State, Nagas

After a Naga woman was shot dead in Imphal East on July 15, COCOMI owned up moral responsibility and signed a tripartite memorandum with the United Naga Council and N. Geoffrey, secretary to Chief Minister N. Biren Singh. The agreement said that the State government would pay a compensation of ₹10 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased, and the outfit would ensure that no such untoward incident or harassment is meted out to any community in future.

COCOMI was originally a part of the peace committee constituted by Governor Anusuiya Uikey in June, but refused to participate till action was taken against “narco terrorists and illegal immigrants from Myanmar”.

A criminal case has also been registered against an Imphal-based politician for writing an opinion column where he alleged that the present crisis in Manipur was the creation of the Assam Rifles unit at Mantripukhri. The column, published in an Imphal-based newspaper and news portals, alleged that Myanmar based “Kuki terrorist outfits” were being protected by the Assam Rifles.

Earlier, a case for sedition and promoting enmity among groups was registered against Jagat Thoudam, adviser to the Indigeneous People’s Front (IPF) and an aide of the Manipur CM, at Imphal West police station on the complaint of the Assam Rifles.

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