TODAY -
Justice Agarwal arrives, appeals for co-operation
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, September 04, 2009: Along with issuing a public notice formally to commence the probe, Chairman of the one-man Inquiry Commission instituted into the July 23 Khwairamband Bazar incident, retired Justice of Gauhati High Court PG Agarwal, who arrived here today, has appealed to all parties to submit their affidavits to the panel.

Justice PG Agarwal addressing the media


Addressing a hurriedly convened press conference at Hotel Imphal here, soon after his arrival, Agarwal observed that the speedy conduct of the inquiry depends on the co-operation of the people in submitting their affidavits as many and as early as possible.

Announcing the issuance of a public notice today to effect commencement of the inquiry into the July 23 Khwairamband Bazar incident, the retired Gauhati High Court justice informed that all parties including victims' families, eyewitnesses, Associations, Unions, NGOs, etc may come to room number 102 of Hotel Imphal to submit their affidavits within September 21 and the hearing would be held after September 21. It may be recalled here that in the July 23 incident, two persons, a former UG cadre and young pregnant mother were killed while five other civilians wounded due to alleged police firing.

On the same day, Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh read out a statement on the floor of the Assembly claiming that the July 23 incident was an encounter between the police commandos and a former UG cadre identified as Chungkham Sanjit, who allegedly resorted to indiscriminate firing resulting in the death of pregnant Rabina and injury to five other civilians.

While the public were protesting against the incident, on August 1 the New Delhi-based Tehelka.com came out with a report accompanied by photographic evidences to allege that the incident was in fact, a fake encounter, and Sanjit was killed in cold blood by the police commandos.

The report of Tehelka and its photographic evidences, reportedly provided by a local photographer, was republished in all the State dailies in their August 2 edition.

The revelation led to intensification of the public outrage over the incident and the State Government was compelled to institute a Judicial Inquiry.

Taking into consideration the charged atmosphere, the State Government at first issued an order announcing institution of a Magisterial Inquiry which was turned down by the people.

The State Government had also suspended seven police commandos including a Sub-Inspector.

But the public are still insisting on dismissal of all the police commandos involved in the incident, necessary action against the higher officials who tried to cover up the facts and resignation of Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh on moral ground.

Later, the State Government agreed to annul the earlier Magisterial Inquiry and institute a Judicial Inquiry.

However, as no sitting or retired Judges in Manipur could be persuaded to conduct the inquiry, retired Gauhati High Court Judge, Justice PG Agarwal was appointed to head the one-man Judiciary Commission.

Responding to a question on the terms of references of the inquiry, Agarwal explained that the terms of references are decided by the State Government and the Commission has nothing to do in this regard, but to base its proceedings on the terms and reference framed by the State.

To find out the facts and circumstances leading to the incident and recommend the Government how to prevent recurrence of such incidents in future are the prescribed terms of reference of the present case, he said.

However, he hastened to add that "If the State agrees to incorporate the terms of reference proposed by some civil society organizations then we can cover them".

Though the Government's order said that the probe report would be submitted within two months, Agarwal observed that submission of the report in time can be possible if the public extend their support to the probe panel.

Meanwhile, the State Government has appointed Principal Secretary PK Jha, IAS, as the Commission's secretary.


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