Imphal, March 13: Mounting protests against the alleged molestation of a woman in police custody and mass rape by militants today forced the Manipur government to announce separate judicial inquiries into these incidents.
The Okram Ibobi Singh cabinet decided to entrust the inquiries to a retired high court judge from outside the state specifically to “remove all doubts about the impartiality of the exercise”.
Women’s organisations of Churachandpur district erupted in anger following allegations about 21 girls from the Hmar tribe being sexually assaulted by members of the United National Liberation Front in January.
These alleged sexual assaults are supposed to have occurred in Lunthulien, Parbung and Thanlon villages.
Thousands participated in a rally at the district headquarters on March 8 to mount pressure on the government to take action and announce compensation to the “victims”.
The chief minister’s home district, Thoubal, has also been restive ever since Maibam Naobi Devi, the alleged girlfriend of a slain People’s Liberation Army militant, accused police commandos of “sadistically” torturing and molesting her in custody.
The cabinet decided to institute the judicial inquiry into the molestation case after nobody deposed before the magistrate entrusted with the probe.
The commandos had arrested Naobi Devi, 22, while she was going to the slain militant’s house for his funeral. The militant was killed in an encounter.
Ibobi Singh, who holds the home portfolio, said in the Assembly that the government had initially thought of requesting the CBI to investigate the cases.
The cabinet settled for judicial inquiries taking into account the investigative agency’s reluctance to take up cases offered to it earlier.
The chief minister assured the House of prompt action based on the judicial inquiry reports. He said militant groups had been holding sway in Thanlon, Tipaimukh and Parbung ' all in Churachandpur district ' for a decade until the army moved into these areas in January.