Details of crimes committed by Army and CRPF add impetus to the cry for justice
A 15-year-old girl carrying lunch for her father to his workplace, a mother putting her baby to sleep at home, a woman waiting for her bus at a busy marketplace and spectators at a volleyball match are some of the innocent victims of rape and revenge killings by services personnel under the cover of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Manipur.
The details of the crimes allegedly committed by the Army, the CRPF and police commandos were revealed in a series of inquiry reports filed by serving and retired district judges, adding impetus to the cry for justice and repeal of AFSPA by activist Irom Sharmila. On August 8, 2014, the Manipur government handed over the reports to a Supreme Court Bench led by Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
The Bench is hearing a PIL petition filed in 2012 by the Extra Judicial Executions Victims’ Families Association, through senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, seeking a Special Investigation Team to probe almost 1,590 cases of alleged extra-judicial killings and disappearances in the State since the 1980s.
These inquiries, commissioned by the State government and the Guwahati High Court, date back to 1985.
One report by M. Manoj Kumar Singh, District Judge, Imphal East, is about the rape of a 15-year-old schoolgirl committed by two Army personnel of the 12th Grenadier on October 4, 2004. The victim committed suicide the same day.
The judge noted that “crimes against women, more particularly relating to sexual harassment, committed by armed forces, are now increasing at least in some States like ours.”
The report said: “They [armed forces] think themselves placed at the elevated status of impunity by the legislation and think wrongly they are given licence to do whatever they like.”
Another report by C. Upendra Singh, a retired district judge, investigated the death of Amina, a young mother shot by CRPF personnel while putting her baby to sleep at home. The report said she died when a CRPF party, in pursuit of a man, entered Naorem village, surrounded Amina’s house and fired indiscriminately.
Similarly, Judge Manoj Kumar Singh investigated the shooting of Yumnam Robita Devi, 52, on April 9, 2002 as she waited for a bus at Pangei Bazar. A passing convoy of CRPF personnel was ambushed by insurgents. In retaliation, the report said, the personnel turned to the civilians and fired indiscriminately. Ms. Devi, who ducked on the floor of the market, was spotted and shot dead.