Tribunal seeks act repeal - 'Independent' panel wants AFSPA to go

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  • Published 19.01.11

Imphal, Jan. 18: An “independent” people’s tribunal today demanded the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in Manipur.

The report, released by rights activist and lawyer Khaidem Mani in the form of a 280-page book, Manipur in the shadow of AFSPA, also called for preventing misuse of provisions of the National Security Act, the Disturbed Area Act and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The report, based on the Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy Commission recommendations, was released after the tribunal heard testimonies of relatives of victims of more than 40 cases of human rights violation and extra-judicial killings in the past five years.

Justice K.K. Usha, retired Chief Justice of Kerala High Court, Justice D.K. Basu, former judge, Calcutta High Court, Justice Malay Sengupta, former acting Chief Justice, Sikkim High Court, Justice Th. Sudhir Singh, retired district and sessions judge, Manipur East, Justice C. Upendra Singh, retired district and sessions judge, Manipur, Justice Lisam Rabindra Singh, retired judge, family court, Manipur and Yambem Laba, former member, Manipur Human Rights Commission, were the panel members of the tribunal.

The panel held three-day sittings from December 11, 2009 in Imphal and heard accounts of relatives of victims as to how their dear ones were taken away from their homes and killed in fake encounters by security forces and police.

Human Rights Law Network, an NGO, had organised the hearing and will distribute the report to right activists in other cities.

“The objective of the tribunal’s hearing and the report with recommendations is to draw the attention of the citizens of the country on the failure of the justice delivery system in Manipur and other areas where the AFSPA is enforced,” the executive director of the Manipur chapter of the NGO, Rakesh Meihoubam, said.

Releasing the report, Khaidem Mani, who has represented relatives of many victims of extra-judicial killings, said the army act was helping militants in their recruitment activities.

“More and more brothers and sisters of victims of the AFSPA are joining the ranks of militants,” he said.

In a deposition, Garamjan Bibi of Imphal West narrated how her 12-year-old son Md Azad Khan, a Class VII student, was dragged from his house and later shot dead at a nearby paddy field in March 2009. The police had claimed the boy was a militant and he was killed in an encounter.

The 10 recommendations made by the tribunal include transparent and thorough investigation into alleged fake encounter cases, reports of judicial, executive or independent probes should be made public, rehabilitation of families of victims and withdrawal of paramilitary forces from Manipur as far as possible.

The tribunal heard many such cases where youths were taken away from their houses in front of family members and killed in fake encounters.

“The facts of the cases, where people were taken into custody from their own houses and later found killed are telling. Such victims included invalids like Tomba Singh and a 12-year-old-boy,” the report said.