Imphal, March 3: The Supreme Court-appointed commission began hearing of six cases of alleged extrajudicial killings in Manipur at the panel’s makeshift office at a hotel here today.
The Supreme Court, acting on two petitions filed by Human Rights Alert, Manipur, and Extra-Judicial Execution Victim Families Association Manipur, had set up the commission on January 4 to probe the first six of more than 1,500 cases listed in the petitions.
Today, witnesses deposed before the panel headed by former apex court justice N. Santosh Hegde, who, along with former chief election commissioner J.M. Lyndoh and retired Karnataka director-general of police Ajay Kumar Singh, both members, arrived here yesterday. The panel will examine the witnesses for about four days.
The six cases being heard involved the death of seven persons under similar circumstances — after being allegedly picked up by police and the Assam Rifles.
The first case involved the killing of a 14-year-old boy, Md Azad Khan, allegedly by a joi-nt team of police and Assam Rifles on March 4, 2009, after he was reportedly picked up fr-om his house in Imphal West.
The second case involved killing of Khumbongmajum Orsonjit, 19, by a police team after he was allegedly picked up from his house here.
Third case is killing of two cousins, Nameirakpam Nobo, 27, and Nameirakpam Govind, 25, in Imphal East after they were allegedly picked up from their house by the police and the Assam Rifles.
The fourth involved killing of Elangbam Kiranjit, 22, after being allegedly picked up by a joint Assam Rifles-police team on April 23, 2009, in Thoubal district.
In the fifth case, Chongtham Umakanta, 24, of Imphal West, was allegedly killed after being picked up from a friend’s house on May 4, 2009.
In the sixth case, Akoijam Priyobrata, 25, was killed after being picked up by a joint team of the police and security forces on March 15, 2009.
The counsel for the police, Dilip Kumar Das, did no ask many questions during the cross-examination of the witnesses though the Assam Rifles’s counsel, P.N. Choudhry, grilled them with several, including irrelevant questions. The chairman had to interrupt Choudhury on some occasions, saying he was asking useless questions.
Tomorrow, the commission will examine the police and Assam Rifles witnesses.
During the hearings, the commission will also study the manner in which the state police and security forces were functioning in Manipur.
Many lawyers, relatives of the victims and petitioners turned up at the hearing.