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Manipur to pay Rs 5lakh for ‘killing’

New Delhi, Feb. 1: The Manipur government has been asked to pay Rs 5 lakh to the family of a man who was stopped by policemen for failing to give right of way to their vehicle and then shot following a scuffle.

The National Human Rights Commission, which ordered the compensation, also rapped the Manipur government for failing to send any reports on encounter killings in the state, and asked the state chief secretary to explain 111 such deaths.

R.K. Sanjaoba, 39, was killed on October 20, 2004, on a busy road in Sagolband, Imphal, barely 500 metres from his home. He was on his scooter when a constable escorting the officer-in-charge of Patsoi police station stopped him and roughed him up for not giving right of way to the police Gypsy.

A fight broke out as Sanjaoba, nephew of former Manipur chief minister R.K. Jaichandra Singh, refused to take the insult lying down.

Eyewitnesses said another constable joined in and attacked Sanjaoba with his lathi. Sanjaoba snatched the policeman’s baton and hit him back. The Gypsy driver came out and fired at Sanjaoba’s leg but missed.

One of the constables then fired, hitting Sanjaoba in the chest and killing him on the spot. The Imphal police recorded the death as one by “accidental fire”.

The national rights panel observed that the “theory propounded by the police is hard to believe”.

Its January 28 order said: “The deceased and another person were returning home on their scooter which was stopped by some unknown personnel of Manipur police. In the scuffle which took place, one of the policemen shot him in the chest at point-blank range as a result of which he died on the spot.”

The commission added: “It is also hard to believe that three police personnel could not control one person who was without any weapon. It appears that a story is created as if crime is not committed and is (a case of) accidental fire. No reliance can be placed on such theory; it is a case of killing of a person who was innocent.”

The order came on a petition from the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) seeking the commission's intervention.

ACHR director Suhas Chakma said: “The NHRC's order is historic considering the systematic fake-encounter killings by the Manipur police under the guise of joint operations with the central forces. The Manipur government must realise that even if the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act is imposed, the central forces are legally required to operate under the command of police to help the civil administration.”

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