TODAY -
Justice Agarwal panel summons four Witness
Hints firing was from a long barrel gun

Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, October 09 2009: The Justice (Retd) PG agarwal Inquiry Commission, roped in to investigate the controversial firing at BT Road on July 23, has issued summons to four persons on their failure to extend cooperation even as a witness today hinted that the first shot on that fateful day appeared to be from 'weapon with a longer barrel'.

While the panel made it clear that it was not amused as four persons injured in the said incident are dodging their responsibilities as law abiding citizens, a witness to the BT Road firing disposed before the panel members that he too was among those who suffered injury.

The witness, namely Kangabam Subhashchandra Singh (40) s/o K Shamungou of Kha Potsangbam Mayai Leikai, identified himself as a jawan of the 1st Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) and speculated that the firing might have been from a long barrel gun, a sharp contradiction to what police authorities had been claiming that it was first fired from a small arm (pistol), subsequently recovered from a slain person.

The IRB personnel's remarks is in contrast to the police theory of an encounter preceded by firing on that day by one Chungkham Sanjit Singh and the charge that Sanjit's action led to the death of Th Rabina Devi.

Police commandos shot dead Sanjit and claimed to have recovered the pistol from his possession.

According to Subhashchandra, he was at the Khwairamband market place on July 23 to purchase shoes for his son, when at about 10 am, he heard a single gunshot.

Recounting that he soon realised he was grazed on the right ear (possibly) by that bullet, when blood drops stained his shirt, the IRB man further said he ducked and ran towards a nearby toilet complex.

Stating that when he looked around he also saw a woman in a pool of blood and a little child crying near the prostrated body, Subhashchandra confessed that he came to know the victim woman was Rabina Devi from news reports.

He also speculated that the bullet that hit him and Rabina Devi might be the same.

Claiming he was not on duty and was in civvies when the incident occurred, the IRB jawan, in response to a query, told the Commission that the very gunshot might have come from a long barrel gun and not from small arms like a pistol.

He, however, hastened to add he could not say from which side or who fired the bullet.

further informing that moments later some more gunshots were heard from the direction of a shopping complex along the BT road, Subhashchandra declared he was soon put in a vehicle (car) along with another injured woman and rushed to RIMS Hospital where he was treated.

"I have no idea on how the incident took place and I also came to know through media reports that the woman who was lying in a pool of blood was Rabina Devi," he reiterated.

Two lawyers engaged by the Police Department attended today's proceedings.

Meanwhile, Justice (Retd) PG Agarwal, who is heading the State-sponsored probe into the July 23 firing, served summon notices on four persons who were injured in the incident for their failure to cooperate with the panel.

Noting that the four had been avoiding appearance before the panel inspite of earlier notices served on them, the panel head under Section 4 (a) of the Commission of Inquiry Act issued summons today to ensure they appear on October 27 .

In connection with the controversial incident that killed two persons and injured five others, the Commission in its hearing at Hotel Imphal today commented 'if they fail to appear on the prescribed date then we will do the needful to ensure it proceeds smoothly to find out the whole veracity of the case.

They are important witnesses'.

Section 4 (a) implies 'summoning and enforcing of any person from any part of India and examining on oath'.

The IRB personnel, who disposed before the panel today, was among the five injured persons who were actually served summon notices.

Meanwhile, the commission approved appeal by the counsels on behalf of the Police Department for 15 more days time to file its affidavit.

The probe panel also asked the State Government to appoint a counsel to assist the PG Agarwal Commission of Inquiry.

Conveying that it had received medico-legal reports of the injured persons and post mortem report of the deceased, the panel has intimated to the Imphal West District Magistrate to submit copies of the Magisterial inquiry into the death of Chungkham Sanjit and Th Rabina Devi.

In its directives, PG Agarwal noted a report of Imphal East district police regarding notice issued on the legal relatives of the deceased Ch Sanjit which the family members declined to receive.

Necessary order in the matter will be passed by the Commission on the progress of the inquiry, he affirmed.

In an interesting development, the Manipur Human Rights Commission, who the State Government had already asked to wind up the investigation, rejected the Government's order and instead served warrants of arrests against the Superintendent of Police (Imphal West) and the Officer in-charge of police commando.

Even though the State Government reasoned that the judicial inquiry led by justice (Retd) PG agarwal had already commenced and hinted the MHRC probe is now irrelevant, the State rights body persisted with the issuance of the warrants owing to failure of the SP and the OC to appear before the panel as had been scheduled today.

According to MHRC member Ng Nongyai, "they (two officers) are suppose to appear before the Commission in the next hearing on october 21" .

While contending that the MHRC probe is almost complete with the exception of taking statements of the police, he also said notices have been issued for personal appearance of five police officials on the same hearing date.


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