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Manipur NGOs cry for justice

- 18 groups demand chargesheets in cases of violence against women

Imphal, Dec. 13: Eighteen NGOs of Manipur today urged the state government to ensure that chargesheets are prepared in all cases of violence against women to ensure justice.

The recommendation was made on the last day of an 18-day international programme, organised to protest violence against women. Initially organised for a fortnight, the programme began on November 25 and was scheduled to conclude on December 10 but was extended till today to create more awareness on the issue.

According to the National Crimes Record Bureau, there were 304 cases of crime against women in Manipur last year. It is the third state on the crime list in the Northeast after Assam and Tripura, which recorded 3,544 and 1,559 cases respectively during the same period.

“Only a few of these cases were solved,” Sobita Mangsatabam, secretary of Women Action for Development, which took a leading role in organising the programme, said.

“Complete investigation and chargesheet in all cases of violence against women for speedy trial in the court,” was the first of the eight recommendations made by the NGOs after holding a series of public discussions on the issue.

The programme was attended by teachers from Manipur University, colleges, rights defenders and various other social activists, including women. A rally was held at the border township of Moreh in Chandel district, 109km from here, on international human rights day on December 10. Leaflets were distributed to create awareness on the issue.

Speakers stressed the need to create awareness among the 60 MLAs, which include three women, one of them a social welfare minister, to force the government to sit up and take notice of the gender issue.

“We need to educate the 60 MLAs first. The three women legislators should take the initiative,” Chinglen Maisnam of Manipur University’s economic department said.

Former director-general of police M.K. Das admitted investigation was slow and submission of chargesheets to the courts was delayed as the office of the director of prosecution was understaffed.

The NGOs also demanded setting up of a special committee, having three women and two men, from the state police department and home department to examine the cause for delay in investigation of such cases. The recommendations include setting up of a special investigation team to probe crimes against humanity and a special court for trial of such cases.

Stating that the victims of crimes against women have been traumatised and stigmatised, the recommendations urged the government to provide funds for rehabilitation, healthcare and trauma counselling of the victims with special attention to cases of rape. Mangsatabam said the recommendations would be submitted to the state government for consideration.

“Until positive response to the demands comes from the government, citizens’ organisations will not remain silent,” she added.

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