TODAY -

Appeal for Action : Illegal detention and arbitrary arrest of YFPHR members
- April 6 2020 :: By Human Rights Defenders Alert - India (HRDA) -



To
Mr. Debindra Kundra,
National Focal Point - Human Rights Defenders & Assistant Registrar,
National Human Rights Commission,
Manav Adhikar Bhawan,
Block-C, GPO Complex, INA, New Delhi -110 023
Email: hrd-nhrc@nic.in

Dear Sir,

Sub: HRD Alert -India - Urgent Appeal for Action - Manipur: Illegal detention and arbitrary arrest of Mr. Takhenchangbam Shadishkanta and Khangjrakpam Phajaton of the Youth’s Forum for Protection of Human Rights

Greetings from Human Rights Defenders Alert -India!

HRD Alert-India is a forum of Human Rights Defenders for Human Rights Defenders. It endeavours to initiate actions on behalf of Human Rights Defenders under threat or with security concerns. We are writing to express our grave concern over the illegal detention and arbitrary arrest of Mr. Takhenchangbam Shadishkanta and Mr. Khangjrakpam Phajatonon April 1, 2020 and April 2, 2020 respectively.

Status of the Human Rights Defenders:

Youth’s Forum for Protection of Human Rights (YFPHR) is an organisation established in April 2016. YFPHR’s member are the victims of violation committed by the state. The members include the survivor of sexual violence, victims of armed conflict who lost their parents, internally displaced youth due to developmental projects, victims of atrocities committed by the state actors. YFPHR works across the seven states of the Northeast Region of India, committed to address the issue of the Indigenous people rights and human rights in general.

Mr. Takhenchangbam Shadishkanta and Khangjrakpam Phajaton have been spearheading YFPHR for the past three years. Since the recent lockdown in India, YFPHR has been vocal about several issues surrounding it and its impact on human rights.

Source of the Information:

o HRDs in Manipur
o U Jenison, Member of the Steering Committee, YFPHR

The Perpetrators:
o Police personnel of the Porompat Police Station, Imphal East, Manipur
o Police personnel of the Patsoi Police Station, Imphal West, Manipur
o Superintendent of Police, Imphal East, Manipur
o Superintendent of Police, Imphal West, Manipur

Date and Place of Incident:
April 1, 2020; 09:30 PM
Imphal East, Porompat Police Station and Imphal West
April 2, 2020
Imphal West Police Station and Porompat Police Station

Details of the Incident:

YFPHR issued a press statement on April 1, 2020, expressing serious concerns about government utilising the paddy field of Langthabal Phumlou Loukol to set up a quarantine facility which will significantly threaten right to food, food sovereignty and livelihood of farmers and people who are dependent on the said field.

As a direct consequence of the said press release, at around 4:30 PM on April 1, 2020, approximately eight Manipur Police in uniform and fully armed, led by Mr. Haobijam Jogeshchandra, Superintendent of Police (SP), surrounded the office of YFPHR located at the Palace Compound (West), Imphal East. The police personnel entered the office and started enquiring about the whereabouts of YFPHR’s President Mr. Phajaton. Given the ongoing nation-wide lockdown, only one staff was present in the office. Mr. Phajaton was not in the office. The person present at office wasn’t aware about Mr. Phajaton whereabouts.

Thereafter, Mr. Phajaton received a call from the Porompat Police Station at around 7:30 PM, he was asked by the police to have a conversation. Mr. Phajaton assured the police personnel about his availability to meet them in person early morning on the following day.

However, within a couple of hours, at around 9:50 PM, YFPHR’s Secretary Mr. Shadishkanta was received a phone call by the police outside his residence. He was called out of his house by the Officer in Charge [OC] Mr. Binod Kumar with the help of the local Ward Member. He was compelled to come out as all his details were collected by the OC and his house was surrounded.

When Mr. Shadishkanta went out to the main road by the pathway, at around 10:15 PM, two police vehicles were present and he was abducted by the police immediately and illegally detained. Despite repeated requests, he was not made aware about the reasons of the said illegal detention. He was not even told where he was being taken.

At the time of this detention, the police did not produce any arrest warrant or arrest memo. Mr. Shadishkanta was not told about any complaint or FIR against him in the Porompat police station. Mr. Shadishkanta’s family members were not informed about him being detained and brought to the police station.

Mr. Shadishkanta was taken from his house directly to Mr. Haobijam Yogeshchandra, SP, Imphal East. Mr. Shadishkanta was kept waiting at the Palace Gate, Imphal East, and later the SP asked the OC to lock him up until Mr. Phajaton surrenders before the Police. Mr. Shadishkanta spent the entire night and next day till around 6:30 PM in the Porompat Police Station without any information on the FIR and charges against him.

After Mr. Shadishkanta was illegally detained at around 10:15 PM, the OC of the Patsoi Police Station visited the house of Mr. Phajaton, at around 11:00 PM, informing his family members to produce him as soon as possible and left the house. Prior to his this, Mr. Phajaton received multiple calls from the OC Imphal East, Superintendent of Police and Sub Divisional Police Officer till around 9:15 PM.

On April 2, 2020, at around 9:00 AM, the OC of Patsoi Police Station yet again visited Mr. Phajaton’s house and informed his father to produce him before the police. He was threatened that if he fails to produce him, then he may land up in trouble and be booking under the National Security Act (NSA).

At around 2:30 PM, Mr. Phajaton and the team of YFPHR visited the office of the SP, Imphal West, Mr. Konjengbam Meghachandra to meet him, however, he refused and directed one of his OC to record statement of Mr. Phajaton. It took nearly two hours to record a statement.

Later at around 5:30 PM, Mr. Phajaton was escorted by a team of Imphal Police Station, Imphal West and was handed over to the Porompat Police Station. There was no information on the charges provided to Mr. Phajaton or any other people from YFPHR present with him. When it was repeatedly asked with the OC, the OC informed that a discussion was on as to what charges should be invoked.

At the Porompat Police Station, both Mr. Phajaton and Mr. Shadishkanta were asked to sign the arrest memo without mentioning the time of arrest and other details. Upon further inquiry of the charges against them, at 06:30 PM on April 2, 2020, it was made known to them that they have been arrested under FIR Number 67(4) of 2020 registered at Porompat PS under Section 51(b) of the National Disaster Management Act, 2005 and Section 120 (b) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

As gathered from sources, the FIR is based on a suo-motu complaint of the police and was registered on April 2, 2020 at 6:30 PM. Later at 9:30 PM, Mr. Phajaton and Mr. Shadishkanta were produced before the Link Magistrate, Imphal East, at the campus of the Court of CJM Imphal East located at Lamphel. They were subsequently released at 10:00 PM after producing a surety of Rs. 30,000/- each.

The Supreme Court of India has comprehensively laid down the procedure to be followed by the police at the time of arrest in the landmark case of D.K. Basu v. Union of India. Moreover, the Hon’ble Commission has also specified guidelines to be followed, pre-arrest, during arrest and post arrest. However, in the instant case, no guidelines were followed thus making it an illegal confinement of two prominent HRDs of Manipur.

Appeals:

This is a clear case of police excess and misconduct, targeted to stifle dissent and activities of human rights defenders. In the above-mentioned case, HRDs Mr. Takhenchangbam Shadishkanta and Khangjrakpam Phajaton were not only harassed by the police personnel but Mr. Shadishkanta was abducted, kidnapped and illegally confined to a lockup and both of them illegally detained and arbitrarily arrested for a press release questioning certain government actions.

It is in this context, at this juncture, we appeal to the NHRC, as this is a case of police illegal actions severally restricting exercise of Article 21. We urge the NHRC to examine compliance with all the mandatory procedures on arrest and detention laid down in the CrPC, DK Basu Guidelines, NHRC Guidelines on Arrest and applicable judgements of the Hon’ble Supreme Court. Towards this, the NHRC may -

o Consider initiating an immediate independent inquiry through NHRC’s own investigation division and direct the Director General of Police, Manipur to submit urgently -
o All records (FIR copy, arrest memos, medico-legal certificate, certified copy of inspection memo) pertaining to the FIR Number 67(4) of 2020 registered at Porompat PS.
o Copies of written summon under Section 160 of the CrPC.
o Copies of medical report as conducted under Section 54 of the CrPC.
o The names, designations and duty timings and records of all arresting/detaining officers and Station In-Charge on duty in Porompat PS, Imphal East and Patsoi PS, Imphal West, for April 1 and 2, 2020.
o Entries of General Diaries, FIR and Arrest Register of Porompat PS, Imphal East and Patsoi PS, Imphal West, for April 1 and 2, 2020.
o CCTV footages of Porompat PS, Imphal East and Patsoi PS, Imphal West, for April 1 and 2, 2020.
o Call data records of all police personnel of Porompat PS, Imphal East and Patsoi PS, Imphal West, for April 1 and 2, 2020. Call data records for April 1 and 2, 2020, of SPs of Imphal East and Imphal West to be also submitted.
o Wireless logbook record of Porompat PS, Imphal East and Patsoi PS, Imphal West for April 1 and 2, 2020, or district police wireless HQ, where such log is maintained for April 1 and 2, 2020.
o Logbook records of the day of government vehicles used by all police officers of Porompat PS, Imphal East and Patsoi PS, Imphal West, for April 1 and 2, 2020.
o Record statements of Mr. Takhenchangbam Shadishkanta and Khangjrakpam Phajaton through video conferencing or allowing them to submit written statements to the NHRC’s investigation division.
o Inquire and record whether the District Legal Services Authority was informed by the Porompat PS of the arrests.
o Provide security to the HRDs Mr. Takhenchangbam Shadishkanta and Mr. Khangjrakpam Phajaton as they stand at further risk of reprisals.
o Direct the Director General of Police, Manipur to submit a status report on the compliance to the Supreme Court judgement requiring all police stations to upload FIRs online within 24 hours of their registration.

Thanking you in anticipation.

(Henri Tiphagne)
National Working Secretary
Human Rights Defenders Alert - India (HRDA)


* This information is sent to e-pao.net by Kshetrimayum Onil who can be contacted at onilrights(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This Post was webcasted on 07 April 2020

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