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Manipur Human Rights Commission asks state to withdraw ‘disturbed area’ status

The development was the result of a PIL filed by one Th Suresh, chairman of Forensic Study and Placement. The complainant had approached the commission recommending lifting of AFSPA by way of revocation of the 'disturbed area' status from the state.

Written by Jimmy Leivon | Imphal |
Updated: August 17, 2021 11:42:59 pm
The Manipur government had in December 2020 extended the “Disturbed Area” status in the entire state, except in Imphal Municipal areas for a period of one year. (File)

The Manipur Human Rights Commission (MHRC) Tuesday asked the state government to withdraw the ‘disturbed area’ status from the entire state citing various human rights violations on ground.

In a recommendation to withdraw the ‘disturbed area’ status, the MHRC directed the chief secretary, DGP and special secretary (Home) to submit report of the action taken within three months.

The development was the result of a PIL filed by one Th Suresh, chairman of Forensic Study and Placement. The complainant had approached the commission recommending lifting of AFSPA by way of revocation of the ‘disturbed area’ status from the state.

The Commission said that based on the complaint it had taken up the proceeding in June 2020 by asking the respondent (State) to submit its respective response. However, it is learnt that the state failed to respond despite repeated reminders to do so.

In the course of the proceeding, the Commission said it has underscored the recommendations submitted by committees formed by the Centre who pointed out the adverse impact of the imposition of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958 in Manipur and other northeastern regions.

Moreover, the Commission also noted the various protests by the public against the AFSPA, including the naked protest by women in front of the Kangla western gate in Manipur, the hunger strike taken up by Irom Sharmila, protest in the wake of rape and brutal murder of Manorama, self-immolation of Pebam Chitaranjan and various demonstrations by human rights groups, and activists.

Khaidem Mani, acting chairperson of MHRC, said the Commission has recommended for the withdrawal of the ‘disturbed area’ status after taking into account the gross violation of human rights committed by security forces under the shadow of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

Terming AFSPA as a “draconian and an outdated” law, Khaidem Mani said, “It is an act to politically oppress the people of Manipur. Such acts do not suit a democratic country.”

The MHRC chairperson also said that repealing AFSPA will be a great initiative towards bringing a political settlement to the insurgency problem plaguing the state.

Promulgation of ‘disturbed area’ status allows enforcement of AFSPA which allegedly gives impunity to armed forces.

The Manipur government had in December 2020 extended the “Disturbed Area” status in the entire state, except in Imphal Municipal areas for a period of one year.

The decision on extension, as per the government notice, was taken as the Governor of Manipur was of the opinion that due to violent activities of various extremist/insurgent groups, the entire state of Manipur is in such a disturbed condition that the use of armed forces in the aid of civil power is necessary.

The Act has been imposed in the state since 1980 and was extended from time to time.

However, in August 2004, AFSPA was lifted from seven assembly segments of Imphal Municipal areas during the Okram Ibobi-led Congress government. The decision came as massive protests erupted in the state after the rape and murder of Thangjam Manorama while in custody of the Assam Rifles.

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