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State Joins International Human Rights Day Observance

IMPHAL, Dec 10: Narration of ordeals by victims of security forces’ high-handedness, startling revelation on the State machinery’s reliance on brute force to crack down protestors and renewed calls for concerted campaigns to expose atrocities committed by uniform personnel marked the observance of International Human Rights Day held today at Manipur Press Club and elsewhere in the State.

The observance at Manipur press Club was organized separately Life Watch Kangleipak and Wide Angle under the aegis of Varanasi-based People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights and Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims, Denmark.

At the observance hosted by Life Watch, Commandant (Home Guards) Sarangthem Manaobi along with advocate Angomcha Araba and former Minister kh Jibon were the chief guest, president and guest of honor respectively.

Speaking at the occasion, Manaobi noted that from innocent civilians to Ministers/MLAs no one is safe from the brutal conducts of security forces as there had been instances of Minister/MLA detained by Central forces.

Emphasizing that students too need to be aware about human rights for they are the future pillars of the society, the chief guest pointed to the recent case lack of information about RK Meghen’s whereabouts after arrest from Dhaka as another incident of human rights violation.

Manaobi further claimed that when he was Commanding Officer of 1st Manipur Rifles, a top police officer ordered opening of fire at a group of protestors who were agitating against a Central Government decision.

Explaining that he declined to heed the particular order as such an action would have either killed or injured in terms of hundreds, he also claimed that directive of the top officer to tender an apology was also not heeded.

While contending that for showing such dissent he held DSP rank for over 15 years, Manaobi suggested that righteousness always triumphs even though the experience is sometimes excruciating and demoralizing.

As part of the observance held with MLA Dr Ng Bijoy and former member of Manipur State human Rights Commission Y Laba, two individuals who suffered brutalities of security force personnel and ordeals being endured by a lady whose husband was allegedly killed in a stage managed encounter shared their personal experiences.

The lady in question namely Kongkham (O) Gangarani of Kwakeithel claimed that her husband K Deban was gunned down by police commandos on March 23, 2008 at Khongjom area.

Conveying that Deban unwittingly agreed when some individuals hired his Maruti Van which was intercepted by police commandos.

As the vehicle hirers later turned out to be activists of a Kuki UG group all the vehicle occupants including Deban was slain, she maintained while alleging that her husband was shot dead as the police feared he would disclose recovery of huge amount of money from the possession of the UG suspects.

Apart from the mental trauma of losing her husband at an early age, the fact that Gangarani had lost her eyesight during birth of the first child in 2002 put a huge question mark on the survival of the Kongkham family.  She also gave birth to another son before her husband fell prey to the security personnel, Gangarani added.

Another victim namely Moirangthem Rakhesh of Moirang said he was severely tortured by security forces after being whisked away from home in October this year.

At the time of his arrest, Rakhesh insisted that arrest memo be handed over to his mother to which the security team rained blows and kicks for his ‘awareness’ and inquisitiveness; he maintained adding that after being taken to a police station the assault continued.

As thrashing along with third degree interrogation failed to yield anything, Rakhesh said he was forced to sign on a blank paper before being released.

In his narration the third victim namely M Ratan of Kwakeithel said he was forced out of home by Central security force personnel even as his mother pleaded that Ratan was innocent.

A teacher by profession, Ratan was asked to dress up after thorough search of the house did not yield anything incriminating, shoved inside the army vehicle with blind fold and taken away to an undisclosed location where the torture continued for hours.

Neither could the perpetrators assign reason for his arrest nor was his guilt, if any, established at the time of his release, Ratan said and described the incident as the most gruesome.

Earlier, in his address as the chief guest, Dr Ng Bijoy suggested that NGOs working for protection of human rights will have to work in a cordial manner so that brutal face of security forces could be exposed and the guilty ones punished in a befitting manner.

While pledging his personal contribution in the rehabilitation works initiated by NGOs, for the torture victims, the MLA called upon responsible officers to reign in rogue elements within the security establishments.

He also expressed that people of Manipur has been enduring severe hardships with the situation getting even more complicated as there had been cases of surrendered UG cadres accompanying security teams and singling out even innocent persons with a vengeful agenda.

Wide Angle secretary Montu Ahanthem said the organization was formed had been working in close coordination with the Varanasi and Denmark-based rights bodies under the objective of highlighting plight of the torture victims and help them live a normal life through rehabilitation programs.

In his presidential address, Y Laba expressed concerned that cases of rights violation had been continuing for the past many decades inspite of a number of NGOs working in the field exposing atrocities involving security force personnel. He strongly suggested that NGOs need to provide counseling to the victims to help them overcome the fear psychosis.

At Iboyaima Shumang Leela Shanglen highlight of the observance was staging of dance composition entitled ‘Stormy Journey Retour’, release of Manipuri version book about UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and obeisance to victims of human rights violation.

The observance was jointly organized by Action Committee for Tipaimukh, All Manipur Muslim Development Organization, Chanura Lamjinglen Kangleipak, Citizens Concern for Dams and development, Committee on Human Rights, Centre for Organization Research & Education, Extra-judicial Execution Victims’ Families Association Manipur, Families of the Involuntarily Disappeared Association Manipur, Human to humane Transcultural Centre for Trauma & Torture, Human Rights Alert, Human Rights Initiative, Indigenous Perspectives, Nachom Arts of Contemporary Dance Kampni, Peace Core Team Manipur, Rongmei Lu Phuam, Threatened Indigenous Peoples’ Society and United NGOs Mission, Manipur.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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