The Supreme Court Friday directed the CBI to conduct a probe into encounter killings in Manipur. Here are four of the most high-profile cases in the state that will now be under the scanner.
While some controversial cases like the Thangjam Manorama alleged rape and murder do not figure on the list, the Supreme Court has, nevertheless, sent several high profile killings for a probe to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The cases that will now be looked at by the central agency have been investigated in the past by the Army, police and paramilitary forces involved, with varying degrees of action. The CBI has its work cut out as it has to handle cases that range from the killing of a retired Army major and ex-speaker of the Nagaland Assembly, to an alleged fake encounter that involves an Army officer who has been awarded India’s highest peacetime gallantry award – the Ashok Chakra.
Here are some of the cases that have now been opened up.
Ashoka Chakra Awardee implicated
An Army officer conferred the top Indian peacetime gallantry award held “guilty” for an encounter carried out in 2009 was staged in which two cousins were allegedly gunned down in cold blood. Major D. Sreeram Kumar – then with the Assam Rifles – was leading the troops when Nameirakpam Gobind Meiti and Nameirakpam Nobo Meiti were picked up on April 2, 2009.
The official version was that the Manipur Police received inputs that the duo were members of a valley-based terrorist organization, and had gathered at the Langol area. The police team along with Assam Rifles rushed to the area, and allegedly were involved in an encounter with 4-5 armed militants. In a seven-minute encounter, the two alleged militants were killed while two others escaped.
However, an SC-appointed judicial commission found that in spite of “heavy firing”, no damage was caused to the security forces vehicles. Moreover, the medical evidence pointed that the intention of security forces was to “eliminate” them, and that Gobind had no established criminal antecedents, while Nobo had a case registered in 2001, which was closed the next year.
The formers speaker and retired major gunned down
Thenucho Chakesang, a former Speaker of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly and Major Shimareingam Shaiza were driving from Nagaland to Imphal with two armed security guards on 29 August, 1998 when they came under fire. The occupants of the car were gunned down on the way to the Imphal airport after 39 bullets hit their Maruti car.
The official version was that Manipur Police Commandoes were on high alert with three units having engaged with armed extremists earlier in the day. On seeing the car with two armed men, police commandoes thought it belonged to the militants. The car was chased and fired upon, killing all occupants.
The 12-year-old boy
12-year-old Mohammad Azad Khan was killed in March 2009 by a joint team of the Manipur Police and Assam Rifles. According to the official version, the boy was shot down when the security forces raided a house after receiving information about the movement of underground cadres of PULF. Security forces said the two youths were seen running away and firing at the troops. When they allegedly returned fire, Khan was killed while the other youth escaped.
A judicial commission, however, said that security forces team did not actually know the identity of the persons suspected, and the deceased was in his own home when the commandos first saw him. The probe said that it was not believable that 20 trained security personnel with sophisticated weapons could not have overpowered the boy. The victim was found to have been shot from behind at a range beyond 2.5 ft.
The class 10 student
Kangujam Ojit Singh, a 15-year-old student of Class X was allegedly killed in custody. According to a petition filed by his mother, he went out in the afternoon with a friend to a house close by, but did not return till late. She then got information that her son had been arrested by the Army, and was allegedly being beaten up. He was picked up on February 16, 1997, and sent to a police station two days later where he died due to internal bleeding.
The official version was that the boy was picked up under AFSPA, and had suffered injuries on his hand and legs after falling down a ditch while being chased.