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AHRC appeals UN Special Rapporteur
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, May 17 2013 : The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has appealed the UN Special Rapporteur to press the Manipur authorities for conducting thorough and independent investigation in connection with the alleged arrest of two human rights defenders on fabricated charges for protesting against custodial torture in Thoubal district.

The AHRC has also demanded investigation on the background under which the two human rights defenders are arrested.

It further demanded that a judicial magistrate records the statements of the victims of torture and an investigation ordered into the case.

The AHRC appeal letter said that Thoubal police arrested Mandir Laishram (40) s/o (L) L Meijao, secretary of Social Action Development Organization (SADO), a community based organisation, and Ningthoujam Hemo (50) s/o (L) Thambalngou, Vice-President of the Eastern Musical Association (EMA), a local band and both from Heirok village, under the jurisdiction of Thoubal PS, on May 12 .

On May 12, Dr AK Jhaljit, Superintendent of Police (SP), Thoubal District called up Mandir to have a conversation in connection with a recent incident at Heirok.

Mandir and Hemo, accompanied by some musicians of EMA visited Thoubal PS to meet the SP.

As the SP did not turn up till 5.30 in the evening, they returned home informing the officers of the Thoubal police that they would meet the SP the next day.

On their way home, an SI of Thoubal police identified as Ibomcha, called Mandir over phone asking if they had reached home.

Even before they could reach their house, they were intercepted by some personnel of Manipur police near the Police out post at Wangjing.

The officers asked if Mandir and Hemo were in the group.

Mandir and Hemo identified themselves.

SI Ibomcha came soon to the spot.

Thereafter, the other musicians were allowed to leave the place and the police took Mandir and Hemo.

Both Mandir and Hemo were produced before the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) at Thoubal and remanded in police custody for 5 days.

Police registered an FIR No.84(5)13 (FIR) TBL-PS under Sections 148/149/427/447/353 Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) coupled with Section 343 of the IPC, Section 3 Prevention of Damage of Public Property Act.

However, the copy of the FIR and arrest memo is yet to issued to the accused or to their families.

The case began in the intervening night of April 10 and 11, when the members of the EMA were returning home in an auto-rickshaw after performing Thabal chongba were allegedly assaulted by police personnel.

When the team of artists reached a place adjoining Heirok and Wangjing village on their way home, they were signalled to stop using a flashlight by some police personnel in plain clothes led by the Sub-Inspector (SI) Premjit of Heirok police outpost.

As the police personnel were not in uniforms, the team did not know that they are police so they did not stop.

As soon as they recognized some of the police personnel by their appearance, the team stopped their auto-rickshaw.

However, SI Premjit who was in police uniform came to them and asked why they did not stop and started to beat up the auto driver Indrakumar and pushed him to a nearby drain, even before they could make an explanation.

The team were paraded in a line and subjected to torture with rifles butt and sticks by the police personnel.

Deepak sustained a major injury on his head and the others sustained minor injuries due to the torture.

Deepak was taken to the nearby Community Health Centre (CHC).

SI Premjit also reportedly threatened the group not to disclose the matter to anyone.

A public meeting was held and a Joint Action Committee (JAC) was formed to ensure necessary legal action is taken against the police personnel.

The meeting appointed Mandir, a known rights activist of the area, as the secretary of the JAC.

A representation demanding suspension of the police personnel including registration of an FIR against those involved in the torture was submitted to the Chief Minister of Manipur.

The JAC also set a dateline to take necessary action.

As no action was taken, on April 11, the people of Heirok village marched towards the Heirok police outpost and staged a protest.

With no action coming from the authority, the villagers of Heirok burnt the effigies of the Home Minister, the local MLA who is also Education Minister and the SP of Thoubal on May 8 .

The two individuals were reportedly summoned by the SP on May 12 in connection with the series of events following the assault of the artists.


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