‘We want justice. The government can’t keep quiet for long’

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Nongmaithem Michael Singh, 35, Imphal, Manipur

Nongmaithem Neena Devi
Photo: Shailendra Pandey

IF BINAYAK Sen lived in Manipur, he would have been shot dead by now, says Imphal-based human rights activist Babloo Loitangbam. You can’t find a living example of a fabricated case in Manipur. Because this is how such cases work in this part of the country: The army or Manipur Commandos first kill and then charge the victim. Often, the victim is accused of being an underground insurgent. The killing of 27-year-old Chongkham Sanjit was a classic case in which no one less than the chief minister told the Assembly that Sanjit was an insurgent. Only to be proven wrong later. The CBI investigation that followed showed how senior Manipur Commando officers were involved in this extra-judicial killing. But Sanjit’s was just one of many such cases.

Nongmaithem Neena Devi’s husband Nongmaithem Michael Singh, 35, was killed in November 2008. On the fateful day, he stepped out of home after lunch to meet a friend. At around 3.30 pm, Neena (pictured) received a call from him saying he was in police custody and she should get his sister-in-law to speak to the SP. She asked him why he had been arrested, but he put the phone down. She tried his number a few times. Finally, someone picked up and told her that her husband was in the toilet. On the 9 pm news, she saw his dead body. She went to the crime scene, and the police had already branded him as a Kangleipak Communist Party-Military Council militant.

Last week, she was in Delhi to represent widows like her at the people’s hearing on fabricated cases. “We want justice. The government can’t keep quiet for long,” she said. Her plea seems to have been finally heard with the Supreme Court issuing notice to the Union and Manipur governments on 1 October, seeking a probe into the cases of extra-judicial killings in the state.

Kunal Majumder is a Principal Correspondent with Tehelka. 
kunal@tehelka.com

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