Tehelka photos negate BT road encounter theory
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, August 01 2009: Adding new twist to the controversy surrounding the July 23, 2009 firing at the crowded BT road area, Delhi-based Tehelka (news magazine) has displayed photographs that contradicts official version of Chongkham Sanjit Singh being slain in an encounter with police commandos.

in an elaborate report on the BT Road firing compiled by Tehelka's Teresa Rehman and corroborated with a series of images captured by a local photographer, it is displayed that moments before the actual killing of Sanjit, the former PLA cadre is cornered and frisked by police commandos.

1.Chongkham Sanjit (27) is seen standing in a PCO surrounded by police commandos adjacent to a pharmacy (marked by arrow) in Imphal on July 23;
2.Though surrounded by commandos, there is no obvious resistance from Sanjit (marked by a red circle);
3.Sanjit is seen calmly walking away with the heavily armed Cdos;
4.While a commando reaches for his pistol, Sanjit remains visibly calm;
5.Sanjit, known to a former PLA cadre, had retired on health grounds.

Though surrounded, he is calm and there seems to be no urgency or imminent violence in the picture;
6.In a sudden turn of events, sanjit is hustled away roughly by the commandos;
7.Sanjit is dragged into the pharmacy.

he has been surrounded by commandos for several minutes and is obviously unarmed

The captured scenes, under no circumstance indicate than Sanjit resisted arrest.

Police claimed that sanjit tried to evade arrest and fired indiscriminately while fleeing through, unarguably the most crowded place in the capital city of Manipur.

Rather the 27-year old is shown pushed and shoved by the securitymen inside a pharmacy before his lifeless corpse is carried out and laying still in a police vehicle.

Recounting the event Teresa Rehman quotes official record as saying that Manipur Police Commandos (MPC) saw a suspicious youth coming from the direction of Uripok locality.

"When asked to stop, 'the version goes', the youth suddenly pulled out a gun and ran away, firing at the public in a bid to evade the police", reports Tehelka.

Maintaining that the youth was finally cornered inside Maimu Pharmacy near Gambhir Singh Shopping Arcade and opened fire when asked to surrender, the report further states that the police team produced a 9mm Mauser pistol recovered from the slain person identified from his driver's licence as one Chongkham Sanjit, son of Chongkham Khelson of Kongpal Sajor Leikai, Manipur.

Usually, such official versions of encounters are difficult to disprove though everyone may know them to be false, opines Teresa while describing as 'unprecedented coincidence' in Sanjit's case that a local photographer rushed to the scene and managed to shoot a minute-by-minute account of the alleged 'encounter'.

While referring to the sequential turn of events as had been captured and vividly shown in the photographs, the Tehelka report revealed that the photographer fearing for his safety, does not dare publish these pictures in Manipur.

"The photographs clearly reveal that contrary to the official version, Sanjit was standing calmly as the MPC commandos frisked him.

Eye witness accounts partly corroborate the police version � except their account is obviously about a young man other than Sanjit," Teresa narrates.

These witnesses state that a youth did escape from a police frisking party about a hundred metres from where Sanjit was killed.

The police chased this youth and opened fire, killing an innocent bystander, Rabina Devi � who was pregnant at the time � and injuring five other civilians, the Tehelka expose divulges.

It further recounted of the police showing to the media a 9mm Mauser pistol which they alleged was thrown away by the militant before he fled.

after about half an hour, the police claimed to have killed the youth escaped from their hands 'in an encounter'; according to them (police), this youth was Sanjit.

The photographs clearly indicate otherwise, contends the report.

Besides pointing out police record that Sanjit was a cadre of the proscribed PLA and chief Minister O Ibobi Singh making a controversial statement in the assembly that day, asserting that there was no alternative but to kill insurgents, Teresa refreshes that Sanjit was arrested in 2000 but freed only to be detained under NSA in 2007, a year after retiring from the PLA outfit on health grounds.

Released a year later, Sanjit had been staying at home and was working as an attendant in a private hospital.

But even if Sanjit was a former militant, he should not have been killed in a false encounter, opines Teresa and refers to the photos to disprove the police action as the youth was talking to his killers, calmly, without offering any resistance.

He was frisked moments before the shoot-out.

he was not an insurgent on the run.

In fact, sanjit had to make periodic appearances before the Court, a requirement that the Court later lifted, it maintains.

there are also significant inconsistencies in the police versions of the recovery of the weapon, Teresa insists noting that first police claim that it (weapon) was flung away by the fleeing militant.

Then they said it recovered from Sanjit after the encounter.

As the photos show, Sanjit was ushered into the pharmacy, not chased in, the Tehelka report elaborates.

It further questioned 'Also, if Sanjit was, in fact, armed with the 9 mm Mauser, why wasn't it found during the frisking ? Why, as the photos show, was he taken inside the storeroom ?' .

First the police said the pistol was flung away by the fleeing militant.

Then they said it was recovered from Sanjit after the encounter, pointed out the report regarding contradictory stand of the police authorities.

On the legal implication of the case, Tehelka highlights that 'if a death is caused by State forces in an encounter which cannot be justified by Section 46 of Criminal Procedure Code, the officer causing the death would be guilty of culpable homicide'.

In this case, only a rigorous investigation can establish what exactly transpired.

Instead of instituting a judicial enquiry, the State Government is setting up a departmental enquiry, which is unlikely to yield any justice to the victims' families, Tehelka insists.

Recollecting a number of events that had been evoking strong reactions from the general public, it mentioned the indefinite ongoing hunger strike by Irom Chanu Sharmila, the nude protest by womenfolk in the aftermath of the killing of Th Manorama Devi and formation of numerous JACs to illustrate tumultuous phase Manipur and its people had been enduring for decades.

The Tehelka report entitled 'Murder in plain sight' also recalls setting up of MPC first as 'Quick Striking Force (QSF) in 1979; 27 recorded cases of torture and killing attributed to the MPC in 2008; instances of innocent civilians carrying money and valuables robbed and sometimes killed; suspension of five police commandos for their alleged involvement in robbing three youths; and the assertion that for the 'most part, their extra-judicial activity goes scot-free.

Tehelka also quoted an observer as saying 'Life in Manipur is like a lottery.

You are alive because you are lucky'.

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