December 29, 2014 2:40:33 am
A mass grave was discovered in the compound of a high school in Imphal during excavation work. The remains — seven skulls and other skeletal parts — were found when authorities were carrying out work within the compound of Tombisana High School, about 300 meters from Kangla Fort in front of Old Secretariat in Imphal West.
The work was being carried out for the construction of the New Secretariat complex and a market complex in the area. The skeletons were discovered on December 25 by labourers who were levelling the ground.
The Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families Association, Manipur (EEVFAM) plans to move the Manipur High Court on Monday to stop the excavation, which reportedly went on even after the discovery.
The compound was used as a camp by the 49 Battalion of the CRPF for more than 20 years. Later, a city commando unit used it. Following the discovery, human rights activists have alleged the remains belong to people who were picked up and killed in fake encounters.
Sources said that the skulls “were not very old”. Jewellery was found at the site, suggesting women were among the victims. The remains have been taken to Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences for further examination.
The Families of the Involuntarily Disappeared Association, Manipur (FIDAM) and Manipur Peoples Party (MPP) demanded that the Congress government “disclose the truth about the skeletons”. FIDAM also submitted a memorandum to the chief minister demanding that excavation be stopped and a high-level probe be launched.
Leading human rights activist in Manipur Dr D Roy Laifungbam said, “The National Human Rights Commission and the Manipur High Court can take suo motu action and set up an inquiry, but they are not taking any action. The state Home Minister has handed over the remains to a government hospital, but we don’t trust the state machinery and want a national investigative agency to be involved.’’
One activist said there is a possibility that the remains may not be a result of fake encounters as a local civil hospital, where post mortem examinations were conducted, used to be located at the site.
Director of Human Rights Alert Babloo Loitongbam alleged, “This is very possibly the graveyard of fake encounters. It is located close to the Kangla Fort, which was the site of many joint interrogations and torture.”
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