Manipur encounter killings fake,says panel,SC ‘disturbed,distressed’

Commission has found that none of them was genuine and could have been killed in fake encounters.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published: April 4, 2013 10:21:46 pm

A commitee appointed by the Supreme Court to probe six cases of alleged extra-judicial killings in Manipur informed the court on Thursday that all the encounters were fake.

The committee,comprising retired judge Santosh Hegde,former chief election commissioner J M Lyngdoh and former Karnataka police chief A K Singh,held that all the seven victims,including a 12-year-old boy,did not have any criminal background and had not been named in any insurgency-related case.

Indicting the security forces,the report underlined that “four out of these six cases followed an identical pattern”,where the police personnel or armed forces said they had first tried to stop these persons due to “suspicious” activities. When these persons ran and opened fire,they fired back in self-defence,they claimed. The forces also claimed to have recovered arms and ammunition from the sites.

“This is very disturbing. The commission has found that none of these cases was genuine and they could have been killed in fake encounters. It is very distressing to know what the report has found out,” said the bench today.

The bench was hearing a PIL filed by a Manipur group,Extra Judicial Execution Victims Families Association,for setting up a special investigation team to probe 1,528 alleged fake encounters.

“Let it not be an adversarial litigation. The state and Centre should be equally concerned. In fact,it should be a more important matter of consideration for the Centre. This perhaps is not the best way to integrate people,but this is certainly the best way to alienate them,” said the bench,addressing Additional Solicitor General Paras Kuhad and amicus curiae Menaka Guruswamy.

“We will do everything possible in our power to help improve the situation. Physical distance from Delhi does not mean emotional distance or distance from getting equal treatment,being part of the same country. Our concern is also for people getting killed in the cross-fire. We know it is innocents who get killed very often,” it said.

Critical of the role of the police and armed forces in Manipur,the bench noted that following a SC judgement,the National Human Rights Commission had issued detailed guidelines,prompting the Army to issue guidelines for the forces. “Unfortunately,none of these guidelines are followed in actual operations. One of the major tasks before this court is to ensure these guidelines are followed and they do not remain only on paper,” it said.

The court asked the ASG,amicus and the NHRC counsel to go through the panel’s report and suggest ways to ensure implementation of the guidelines. The court will now hear the matter on April 9.

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