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UNION HOME MINISTRY REVOKES DETENTION ORDERS ON TEN PEOPLE, MAJOR EMBARASSMENT FOR IBOBI GOVERNMENT

 
Less than a day after the release of a citizen's report in the city on the civil unrest in Manipur, Union Home Secretary G K Pillai stated that his ministry had revoked the detention orders of ten people, including Jiten Yumnam, a well-known environmental activist. Pillai informed his ministry's decision to Dr. K.S Subramanian, a member of the Independent Citizens' Fact Finding Team that released the report 'Democracy 'Encountered': Rights' Violations in Manipur' on the 23rd November at the India International Centre. The report was released by Randhir Singh, former Professor of Political Theory at Delhi University.

 

The report had come out with a strong indictment of the Ibobi Singh Government and squarely blamed his administration for the deteriorating law and order situation in the state. Jiten and several others were arrested following the spate of spontaneous protests demanding justice and action by the Manipur Government on those involved in the fake encounter of Chungkham Sanjit in Imphal's Khwairamband market on July 23 2009 which also resulted in the death of 5-month pregnant Rabina Devi and injuries to five others.

 

The fact-finding team reached Imphal earlier this month at a time of heightened tensions. Along with KS Subramanian, a former IPS officer and currently Visiting Professor at Jamia Millia Islamia, the team included Sumit Chakravartty, Editor of Mainstream Magazine, Kavita Srivastava, National Secretary of the Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and Vasundhara Jairath representing the Delhi Solidarity Group.

 

At the report release function, Dr. Subramanian drew attention to the need for reforms within the police and stated that today's police, instead of being law-enforcers are making the society 'law-less'. Sumit Chakravartty spoke of the culture of impunity that had pervaded all security forces irrespective of whether or not they came under the Armed Forces Special Power Act, 1958. Kavita Srivastava also noted the extent to which the Rule of Law was completely absent in the State with security forces killing alleged 'militants' without following the due process of law. Vasundhara Jairath illustrated with cases, the government's attempt at crushing all democratic space for protest by using preventive detention laws like the NSA and UAPA consistently against activists to silence all democratic opposition. The report noted that close to three hundred people have been killed by the armed forces in 2009 itself. The report also mentions that out of the 600 odd people languishing in Manipur jails, close to 140 people have been charged under the National Security Act (NSA).

 

The report, first of its kind since the situation in Manipur valley grew volatile since July 23rd killings, pointed out the militarization of the Manipuri life with the civilian and armed personnel ratio being 1:40. "The most shocking aspect about the 'police encounters' is the fact that majority of the killings are not followed by any Enquiry and in any case, no enquiry report has been made public so far by the Ibobi Singh Government" noted Sumit Chakravartty.

 

The release of the report was followed by a panel discussion with former Member of Parliament Surendra Mohan, Tapan Bose of the Pakistan India Peoples Forum for Peace and Democracy and Shoma Chaudhury of Tehelka Magazine.

 

When Dr. Subramanian handed over the report to Home Secretary Pillai, the latter shared the concerns of the team on the prevailing condition in Manipur and informed Subramanian on the evening of November 23 that detention orders of ten people, including Jiten Yumnam, Choudharimayum Singh, Phurailatpam Deban Sharma, Dayananda Chirgtham, Karam Sunil Singh, Haobam (N) Kshetrimayum, Thounaojam Sujit Singh, Irom Brojen Singh, Taorem Ramananda Khuman and Amom Soken Singh, had been revoked by the Central Government, overriding the State Government's detention orders. This follows the recent summoning of Manipur Chief Minister Ibobi Singh to Delhi by the Home Ministry on November 18 to explain the declining state of affairs in Manipur.