CHRI deeply concerned by Manipur police killing of unarmed man, calls for investigation into the police/political

01 Feb, 2016

The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) views with deep concern Manipur Police Head Constable T. Herojit Singh’s admission that he shot and killed Sanjit Meitei, an unarmed suspected member of an anti-State group, on the alleged instructions of a senior police officer. The shooting itself dates back to July 2009 and is being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in which Herojit is one of nine accused policemen. Herojit admits to pumping six bullets into Sanjit and that he was unarmed at the time and the officer who allegedly issued the order was identified as the then Additional SP, Imphal West, Akoijam Jhalajhit.

This allegation makes out a case of premeditated murder. It contradicts and compromises the Manipur Police’s core claims of ‘encounter’ made on oath to the court and to the CBI. It directly implicates senior police officers and the political leadership. This must now be investigated as must the possibility of obstruction of justice by the police establishment and its lawyers.

Demanding the fullest action under the authority of the law, CHRI’s Chair, Wajahat Habibullah pressed, “If true, this amounts to gross abuse of responsibility by the authority assigned the task of enforcing the law. It is imperative that the CBI immediately investigate the senior police officers and any higher authority be they, bureaucrat or politician, who allegedly gave orders for this killing. The state must fully prosecute those who give such orders as a linked offence alongside those who pull the trigger”.

CHRI calls on the following institutions to take urgent action:

  • The CBI must initiate prompt investigation to probe and identify the senior police officers and politicians who gave the orders to kill Sanjit. Any police-politician nexus must be unearthed and exposed by credible objective investigation.
  • The CBI must ensure Herojit’s (and all witnesses) safety for the duration of the investigation and trial
  • The Manipur State Human Rights Commission is urged to initiate its own inquiry
  • The state and central governments must strongly and publicly condemn the action exposed by this revelation and reaffirm their unflinching commitment in support of the law

Mr. Sanjoy Hazarika, member of CHRI’s Executive Committee and specialist on North Eastern issues said, “Herojit’s statement shows the dark hole into which Manipur’s society and government have fallen and the relentless collapse of values. All sides are aware– extremists, politicians, activists, security forces, media and business – that governance is caught up in a web of deceit, suspicion, violence, extortion and fear.

The impunity can end only with genuine accountability, not the kind of cover-up we see unravelling in this case”. He points out that though the Imphal Valley is not covered under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), the Act’s 58 year old presence in the region helps the growth of impunity.

Maja Daruwala, CHRI’s Director, said, “Herojit Singh is a key witness. The court must protect him, hear him and act on his admission. That is its duty. The core issues at hand are whether there was an order to murder an unarmed person, who gave it, and how far up the chain of conspiracy action and intent went. Unfortunately, the usual pattern we see is that the public discourse will subvert the main issue. Motives will now be questioned, character vilified. None of this has any bearing. The state must not allow talk of insurgency to mask murder, subversion of justice and impunity”.