SC order on Manipur encounter killings highlights bigger debate

SC order on Manipur encounter killings highlights bigger debate


New Delhi: The Supreme Court order about 62 cases of the alleged extra-judicial killings by security forces and police have brought the focus to alleged abuse of police and military powers in Manipur, but the allegations of fake encounter killings in Mumbai and UP only show that things require closer examination. In fact, official sources said here that of 1,788 such "extra judicial" killings across India between 2002 and 2013, Uttar Pradesh had the dubious distinction with the maximum number of 743 fake encounter deaths. A 410-page petition filed in 2012 on behalf of two Manipur-based organisations in the Supreme Court cited the instance of a 22-year-old who went looking for a missing cow on his bicycle and was found shot dead. In another case a 12-year-old boy was alleged to have been shot dead in a "joint operation" by Assam Rifles and Manipur police commandos. The boy was suspected to be a member of Manipur-based group PULF, revealed investigations by a Supreme Court-appointed high-power commission, headed by the retired judge Santosh Hegde. Rather alarmingly, the report maintained that 30 armed security force personnel with Ak-47 and assault Rifles could not overpower the 12-year-old boy. In Manipur yet again the killing of a former militant Sanjit in capital Imphal in 2009 also made people raise eye brows. But officials both in states like Manipur and in the Centre – albeit on the condition of anonymity say – even as human rights abuse remains a vital issue in the security related operations, a balance needed to be struck between protecting civilians and maintaining security in high sensitive states. The Supreme Court order on July 14, 2017 directing the CBI to form a team of officers to conduct the probe is not surprising although. In April, 282 cases were referred to the Supreme Court for verification. In 2012, taking cognisance of petitions, the Supreme Court had ordered the Central government and the Manipur government to respond to allegations that "as many as 1528 people including women and children have been killed" by security forces and state commandos between 1978 and 2012. According to human right activists, often these 'encounters' are linked to high-profile politics and also come as part of damage control strategy by security forces and police. Among the high profile cases, BJP president Amit Shah, then a Minister in Gujarat, has faced litigation himself in what is known as Sohrabuddin-encounter case. On December 30, 2014, however, Mr Shah was discharged by a special CBI court in Mumbai. In Gujarat, there were other high-profile cases also like "encounters" involving the deaths of Sadiq Jamal and Ishrat Jahan (2004) and Sohrabudin Sheikh in 2005 and Tulsiram Prajapati in 2006.

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