Manipur conflict inquiry panel yet to hold any public hearing

The commission, which was set up in June, has asked the public to submit any ‘statement, allegation or complaint’ in the form of an affidavit in the next 45 days; over 180 people have been killed in the ethnic violence that has engulfed the State

November 23, 2023 09:00 pm | Updated November 24, 2023 08:32 am IST - NEW DELHI

Paramilitary personnel run to chase away the protesters during the ethnic violence in Manipur. File

Paramilitary personnel run to chase away the protesters during the ethnic violence in Manipur. File | Photo Credit: ANI

Five months after its formation, the three-member Commission of Inquiry (CoI) notified by the Centre to probe the Manipur ethnic violence has asked the members of the public to submit “statement, allegation or complaint” in the form of an affidavit in the next 45 days.

Though it was announced in September that the CoI will hold public hearings to comprehensively investigate the ethnic violence, it is yet to hold any public hearing, either in Delhi or Manipur.

On November 20, the CoI issued a notification that five copies of affidavits, attested by “court, judge, magistrate” or oath commissioners be submitted at its Delhi office in person or through speed post.

On Thursday, however, the Commission said in a press note that the district administration will provide typing facilities at Affidavit Execution Centres at various places to facilitate the filing of affidavits by the public free of cost.

“To ensure safe delivery of affidavits at the Imphal and Delhi offices of the Commission, the State Government has made arrangements for collection of affidavits at relief camps, sub-division and district headquarters level. People may also file affidavits directly with the Commission through post or in person,” the note said.

On November 23, when The Hindu visited the camp office at Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in Delhi, it did not find any complainant.

An official said it has been only two days since the notification inviting the affidavits was published and that they expected the documents to arrive soon.

The CoI has received affidavits and reports from several State government officials including the Deputy Commissioners, The Hindu has learnt.

Another official said plans are under way to arrange accommodation and reimburse the travel expenses of people who would want to come from Manipur to attend the public hearings.

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The notice for the hearings will be issued soon, the official said.

More than 180 people have been killed in the ethnic violence that erupted between the tribal Kuki-Zo and the Meitei people in Manipur on May 3.

Thousands of Kuki-Zo and Meitei people have been displaced from their homes.

The members of the Kuki-Zo community have not been able to travel to capital city Imphal or other valley areas dominated by the Meitei people while the Meitei people have not been able to go to the hill areas since the violence erupted. The CoI’s other camp office is in Imphal.

P. Tomcha Meetei, legal adviser of Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI), a Meitei civil society group said they have had two meetings with the members of the commission in the past two months.

“We will include all the exhibits and evidence pertaining to the violence and will submit them to the CoI,” he said.

Lun Kipgen of the Committee on Tribal Unity (COTU), Kangpokpi, a Kuki-Zo body said that they would be sending their legal adviser to Delhi to submit video footage and copies of first information reports (FIRs) regarding the ongoing violence.

“We have documented everything and we will be deposing before the commission,” Mr. Kipgen said.

The CoI (Manipur Violence) is headed by Justice Ajay Lamba, former Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court, and also includes one retired IAS officer and a retired IPS officer. It was set up on June 4 after Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to the conflict-ridden State from May 29-June 1.

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