Imphal, Oct. 18: A National Human Rights Commission team, led by commission chairman Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, will arrive in Imphal on Wednesday for a three-day visit to assess the human rights situation in Manipur.
The visit comes in the wake of complaints lodged by human rights groups of Manipur of alleged rights violation by government agencies and also in view of cases of fake encounter killings taken up by the Supreme Court.
Sources said the commission team would meet Irom Sharmila, who is in judicial custody for nearly 13 years after she launched a fast unto death demanding the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.
Human Rights Alert, an Imphal-based rights group, had recently lodged a complaint with the national commission against the state government’s restriction on visitors seeking to meet Sharmila.
Babloo Loitongbam, executive director of Human Rights Alert, said even members of Sharmila’s family were not allowed to meet her. He said the commission would look into the restriction of visitors.
Trustee members of Just Peace Foundation, a group supporting Sharmila’s campaign, also could not meet her easily without permission from the government. Irom Singhajit, elder brother of Sharmila, is one of the trustee members of the foundation.
The sources said the commission would hold sittings in Imphal during the visit to examine complaints of human rights issues, including irregular payment of teachers’ salaries by the state government. Ksh. Onil, chief functionary of Reachout, an NGO, lodged a complaint with the national commission last month against irregular payment of salaries for schoolteachers. Onil said the commission would take up the matter during their visit.
The commission will also look into alleged fake encounter cases. Human Rights Alert and Extra-judicial Execution Victim Families’ Association, Manipur, want setting up of a Special Investigation Team to probe more than 1,500 cases of fake encounter killings pending in the Supreme Court.
“The Supreme Court issued a directive during the course of the hearing of the fake encounter cases to the national commission to visit Manipur and assess the situation. This is for the first time that the national commission would be visiting Manipur,” Loitongbam said.
During their stay in Imphal, commission members will meet representatives of NGOs and state government officials, including senior police officers and magistrates, and discuss the human rights situation in the state.
Loitongbam said the commission would also examine issues related to healthcare, public distribution system, the problems of people living around Loktak lake, condition of jails and child labour.
The team will visit some of the state-run hospitals and Loktak lake in Bishnupur district, 45km south of Imphal.