PUCL Bulletin, September 2004
PUCL Writes to NHRC:
Rape in Manipur
The General Secretary of the PUCL, Dr YP Chhibbar has written to the National Human Rights Commission to take note of the serious situation developing in Manipur after the most heinous crime of rape is alleged to have been committed by the personnel of the Assam Rifles on Th. Manorama Devi. Following is the text of the letter sent to the Convenor of the NGO Core group, NHRC:
“I would like to draw the attention of the Commission towards very disturbing reports received from the Manipur Branch of the PUCL. It has been reported to us that in the early hours of July 11 a 32 year old woman Thangjam Manorama alias Henthoi, daughter of late Th. Virahari of Bamon Kamu makha Leikai was shot dead by the personnel of 17th Assam Rifles. The circumstances of the killing and the events before and after the killing have assumed a raging controversy.
“It is reported by the family of the deceased that some members of the Assam Rifles forced their way into their house sometime after 12.30 a.m. after breaking down the front door. They asked for Th. Manorama and later dragged her out of her bedroom and slapped her around in the courtyard. An arrest memo was issued to her mother signed by Havaldar Suresh Kumar and witnessed by riflemen P. Lotha and Ajit Singh. It is said that the memo mentioned that no property was recovered and taken into charge at the time of arrest. The family is reported to have admitted that she had been a member of the underground PLA but had retired three years back on account of ill health.
“The family maintains that the local villagers found her bullets riddled body lying abandoned near Yaipharok Maring village in the morning. The status of the body was such, the family maintains, that the victim appeared to have been killed after sexual molestation. Her bra was found unhooked and there were scratches on her breasts and signs of bleeding from her private parts. The body was taken to the hospital (RIMS) morgue by the family members, locals, and Irilbung police. The postmortem of the body is reported to have been done in the presence of a Magistrate and was video taped. It is alleged that there were five bullet injuries on the body.
“Her family is reported to have refused to take the dead body.
“The news spread like wild fire and spontaneous demonstrations and processions by Meira Paibis and other local organisations took place
“The officials of the 17th Assam rifles, on the other hand, maintain that she was suspected to be a member of the under ground PLA, and stated that a radio set, a hand grenade, and some documents were recovered from her possession. In on the spot questioning she had admitted, says the 17th Assam rifles, that she possessed an AK 47 rifle. She agreed to lead the raiding party to the place where the weapon was hidden. On the way to the place she took permission to ease herself and was allowed to get down from the vehicle. As soon as she got down she started running in a bid to escape, ignoring the warnings to stop.
She was hit when the escorting party opened fire on her and consequently she succumbed to injuries. The Assam Rifles have said she was involved in many crimes and was being tracked for two years. They maintained that the members of the raiding party guarded her body at the spot where she was hit and sent for the police. They handed over the body to the police when they came. It has been announced that the Commander of 9 sector Assam Rifles had met the Chief Minister and assured him that a court of inquiry had been ordered.
“The incident has resulted in blockades, marches, and demonstrations all over Manipur demanding a high-level inquiry and punishment to the guilty personnel involved in the incident. At the centre of the storm is the long standing demand of the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
“It may be mentioned here that one Ms. Irom Sharmila is on hunger strike for the past three years for the repeal of the AFSPA.
“In a stunning display of anger and protest against violation of the dignity of women by the security forces about a dozen women are reported to have staged a bare bodied demonstration in front of the western gate of Kangla complex where the Head Quarter of the concerned group of Assam Rifles is situated. Protests by women are led by Meira paibis along with other women’s organisations and organisations working in the field of Human Rights and Civil Liberties.
“The PUCL urges the Commission to intervene in the matter as it has done in some cases in Jammu and Kashmir in the past so that the existing explosive situation in this sensitive region of the country is defused.
“Further, the Commission may advise the UPA Government to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which is at the root of so many atrocities committed wherever the Act is in force.
“Looking forward for early action”. Sincerely yours. -- Y.P. Chhibbar, Ph. D., General Secretary
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