Suspended head constable Herojit Singh’s confessions on the events which unfolded on July 23, 2009 leading to the death of a former PLA insurgent Sanjit Meitei and that of a pregnant bystander Th Rabina has opened a can of worms.
Associates close to Herojit in Manipur’s police force say that this may have been the most high profile incident (the incident which got most media attention) that the encounter cop was involved in but he is alleged to have been involved in other cases too. He was Manipur police’s main “hitman’’ till the Sanjit-Rabina case.
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Singh himself says that a diary containing the details of numerous encounters is now in the possession of the CBI. “If they ask me about these cases I can give them precise details of each case,’’ he claims off camera.
Singh’s story is common in Manipur. It’s the story of individuals, families caught between a violent state administration and an even more violent insurgency. “My mother used to work in the government, so we would get demand notes all the time. There was one particular group which had been asking us for money every other month – one time they asked us to deliver Rs 20 lakh. Where would we get such an amount? We had to sell off all our land, our paddy fields, everything we had to meet these demands. When I was in class XI my parents got me a Hero Honda bike. But the insurgents would take it away from me and use it. I rarely got to ride it. So I was furious. I asked them to leave us alone. I asked them why they were harassing us. They said we’ll stop harassing your family if you join us. So I agreed,’’ says Singh.
It’s only when his parents pleaded with the militants that they let him go. “But not before giving me a sound beating,’’ he recalls. Singh never forgot the humiliation of that day. “That’s when I decided to join the police,’’ he says.
In 2001, he trained to be a Manipur commando and eventually became the man with one of the highest encounter counts to his name. “As far as I was concerned, what I was doing was in the service of the nation,’’ claims Singh. Singh came out with his startling revelations about the encounter because he feels he has a target on his back now. With the knowledge that he possesses, he has become an encumbrance for his police force and his colleagues.
The 2009 fake encounter reported in The Indian Express is still under the CBI radar which is yet to complete its investigation. In all, there are nine accused in the case – Singh and eight other Manipur commandos – all of whom are under suspension. None of them have been arrested.