NEW DELHI, December 11: A large number of Manipuri youth gathered today, December 11, at Jantar Mantar under the banner of North-East Forum for International Solidarity (NEFIS) for a candle-light march against the persistence of extra-judicial killings by the armed personnel in the state of Manipur, said a press release by NEFIS.
It said, the immediate call for the candle-light vigil was taken following the Attorney General’s adverse comments in the Supreme Court against the people of Manipur. Prominent human rights activist Babloo Loitongbom addressed the protest meeting and condemned Attorney General’s statement.
It is said in the press release that, since early December 2015, the Supreme Court has been hearing the final arguments in a case filed by Manipuri activists and human rights organizations on the issue of fake encounters by the armed personnel and the impunity the armed forces enjoy under the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). In the final arguments, the Attorney General, who represents the Government of India, made several objectionable comments about the people of Manipur in the effort to justify the central government’s decision to shield armed personnel’s actions in joint or independent operations from investigation and from judicial action as per existing laws of the Indian courts. It is this hardened, anti-people approach of the government that triggered today’s candle-light march at Jantar Mantar.
It is worrying fact that the reported number of persons who have been killed in fake encounter cases by the security forces in Manipur up till 2012 is above 1528, which is 14.43% of the total population of the State. These details have been placed before the Hon’ble court. The figure, of course, would be much higher if unreported cases are included in the statistical findings. Such brute action, the resistance to open up extra-judicial killings to investigation, as well as the unwillingness to take appropriate and timely action, like court martial, under the given Army Act, indicate nothing but government apathy and intolerance of the people’s movement in Manipur. In reality, such action represents little respect and commitment for negotiation and peace talks by the government, said NEFIS in the press release.
It said, at the candle-light vigil and protest meeting, NEFIS activists resolved that if the Supreme Court ruling fails to uphold justice then an all-India campaign will be launched on the issue and a public condemnation will be aggressively pursued across cities where Manipuri youth study/work in large numbers.