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CSCHR seeks NHRC's intervention into 'arbitrary arrests' in State
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, April 04 2020: The Civil Society Coalition for Human Rights in Manipur and the UN (CSCHR) have sought intervention of the National Human Rights Commission into the recent "spree of arbitrary arrests and detention" of human rights defenders in Manipur.

Urging the National Human Rights Commission to intervene and direct the Director General of Police to revoke all FIRs filed against several persons who were arrested for "exercising their right to freedom of expression" recently, the State human rights group highlighted that on April 3, 2020, at around 6 pm, a team of Imphal West police came to Dr Laifungbam Debabrata Roy's residence in Yaiskul and he was summoned to police station in connection with a post he wrote on Facebook.

Dr Laifungbam Debabrata Roy is a senior public health physician who is also president of the Centre for Organisation, Research and Education (CORE), which is one of the constituent members of CSCHR, said the rights groups.

He was summoned to the police station because of the Facebook post wherein he wrote: "The present Manipur Chief Minister, especially at this time of crisis, should desist from wasting State resources, time and personnel in carrying out any personal political agenda or vendetta.

It demeans and belittles the position occupied and the responsibility that entails" .

"As soon as he reached the police station he was immediately sent to lock-up till the filing of this petition.

No arrest memo was issued nor was any FIR registered till date.

He was reportedly asked to make a public apology on social media and mainstream media for giving a statement against the Chief Minister," claimed the human rights groups.

It may be noted that on April 1, 2020 at around 9 pm, one T Shadishkanta, secretary of Youth's Forum for Protection of Human Rights (YFPHR) was picked up by a team of Porompat Police Station, Imphal East from his residence without any arrest warrant and without issuing arrest memo.

Police filed an FIR No 67(4) 2020 Porompat police station U/s 51 (b) Disaster Management Act, 2005 and 120 B IPC against him in connection with a press statement which the YFPHR issued, alleged the human rights groups.

In the press release, the YPHR had urged the State to move/shift a COVID-19 quarantine centre to Koirengei airfield from its proposed site.

Further, Shadishkanta was pressured to produce Phajaton, president of YFPHR under whose signature the said press statement was issued.

"On April 2 at around 9 am, the Officer in Charge of Patsoi police station came to the house of Phajaton.

The police team informed his father to produce him before the police without any delay.

Phajaton's father was threatened that if Phajaton failed to report to the police station, he may be booked under the National Security Act (NSA) .

At around 2.30 pm, Phajaton along with some members of YFPHR visited the office of the Superintendent of Police, Imphal West.

Thereafter, the second Officer in Charge of Imphal Police Station recorded the statement of Phajaton.

He was later informed that he was also booked under FIR No 67(4) 2020 Porompat Police Station.

Both Phajaton and Shadishkanta were released on bail only after they were produced before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Imphal East," claimed the human rights groups.

Yet in another incident, on April 1, 2020 at around 7.30 pm, Konsam Victor Singh (40) of Khurai Konsam Leikai, Imphal East district was "arbitrarily" detained by a team of Imphal East Police in connection with his Facebook post wherein he wrote: "CM covid-19 relief fund da CM Biren masagi oiba lupa kaya hapkhi khangbiba yaobibaro?" (Does anybody know how much has CM Biren contributed to the CM covid-19 relief fund?) .

"He was released only after he had deleted the said post the next day.

He was also reportedly forced to apologize after duly subjecting him to humiliating and degrading treatment," alleged the rights groups.

"In the light of the above stated facts, specially at this juncture where the Government is trying to work closely with the civil society (organisations) to combat COVID-19 pandemic, such high-handed and irresponsible act of the State will only polarize the society thereby hindering the collective effort," said the groups appealing the National Human Rights Commission to take all necessary actions to uphold the right to freedom of expression and defend the human rights defenders.


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