TODAY -

For not taking preemptive steps at Jiribam MHRC lampoons SA, DG
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, July 09 2024: Hundreds of families fleeing their homes in Jiribam could have been averted had the authorities concerned taken up timely preemptive actions, said the Manipur Human Rights Commission as it came down heavily on Rajiv Singh, Director General of Police and Kuldeip Singh, Security Advisor to the State Government today.

A bench of the MHRC comprising Chairperson UB Saha and Member KK Singh was hearing a petition on Jiribam violence when it made the observation.

The petition against the DGP, the Security Advisor and four others was filed by one Saikhom Kamala Kanta Singha and Fanjowbam Lokenath Singha, both residents of Assam's Cachar district.

The petition sought a direction from the MHRC against the DGP and the Security Advisor for "failing" to take up preemptive measures to thwart violence in Jiribam, and compensation to internally displaced persons (IDPs) .

Notably, Jiribam was relatively peaceful for more than a year after violence broke out in Manipur on May 3, 2023 .

Violence erupted in the district after a Meitei farmer, S Saratkumar was killed by suspected Kuki militants on June 6, 2024 .

Tension gripped Jiribam after the killing, and subsequent gun attacks on civilian settlements by armed Kukis resulted in the burning of nearly 100 houses and forced displacement of hundreds of people.

Significantly, these attacks on Meitei settlements came months after the office of the Chief Minister provided vital intelligence on buildup of armed Kukis in the district's border area to Director General of Police, Rajiv Singh and Security Advisor, Kuldeip Singh and advised them to take up appropriate preemptive measures to thwart violence.

The petition that has been filed with the Manipur Human Rights Commission (MHRC) asserted that the "failure" of the DGP and Security Advisor to comply with the instructions and advice of the Chief Minister's office to take up preemptive measures led to the attacks in Jiribam and people in hundreds fleeing their homes.

It further asserted that even though an order was issued by the Director General of Police on June 7, 2024 for deployment of 138 police personnel in Jiribam, the personnel have not been sent to vulnerable areas including Lamtai Khunou where violent incidents persist.

Moreover, it claims "some of the personnel whose particulars were given in the order issued by the DGP are non-existent as they are believed to have died long back or lodged in jail" .

Hearing the petition today, the MHRC quoted the contents of a series of confidential letters sent from the office of the Chief Minister to the DGP and Security Advisor in January, 2024 about the buildup of armed Kuki-Zo militants in the district.

Justice UB Saha noted that in January 2024, N Geoffrey, Secretary to Chief Minister had on multiple occasions alerted the DGP and Security Advisor on buildup and movement of armed Kuki-Zo militants from Churachandpur towards Jiribam district and advised them to take up preemptive measures using State and Central security forces.

It may be mentioned here that The Sangai Express had revealed these confidential letters containing intelligence reports on the buildup of armed Kuki-Zo militants on June 9, 2024 .

The confidential documents on Jiribam

Months before violence erupted in Jiribam, N Geoffrey, Secretary to Chief Minister first shot a letter to Director General of Police, Rajiv Singh on January 15, 2024 mentioning about movement of about "200 armed Kuki-Zo militants" from Churachandpur to a village near Jiribam district.

"It has been reported that about 200 armed Kuki-Zo militants have moved from Churachandpur and reached Phaitol Village, Old and New Kaiphundai area of Tamenglong district bordering Jiribam district," said the letter marked "IMMEDIATE & CONFIDENTIAL" .

It asked the Director General of Police to "take all necessary security measures in order to prevent any untoward incident" and "respond to threats posed by the group..." .

Days later, incidents of gun fire were reported from several villages including Lamtai Khunou in Jiribam, and on January 21, a request was made by the district's Superintendent of Police to the ADGP (L&O) to provide 2 Companies of CAPF for deployment at Jiribam and Borobekra sub-divisions for maintaining law and order.

Later on January 27, 2024, the Secretary to the Chief Minister wrote another letter to Director General of Police Rajiv Singh with copies to the Security Advisor, Chief Secretary and Superintendent of Police of Jiribam. The letter marked "IMMEDIATE" said there were movement of "armed miscreants from Churachandpur" towards Vangai Range bordering areas of Jiribam and asked the Director General of Police to take adequate preemptive measures including domination of strategic locations using Central and State security forces.

Significantly, it said the ITLF (Indigenous Tribal Leader's Forum) was reportedly considering cutting off supply lines to Imphal Valley via Jiribam.

MHRC's order

Hearing the petition, Justice UB Saha observed that the Director General of Police, Rajiv Singh "did not take any actions" on the letters sent by the Secretary to CM and Jiribam district police.

It appears that the District Police Authority, Jiribam on January 21 had intimated the law and order situation in the district at relevant time and it had requested the ADGP (L&O), with information to the DGP, to provide 2 companies of CAPF for elaborate security deployment at Jiribam and Borobekra subdivision.

Rajiv Singh, currently holding the post of the Director General of Police also did not take any actions upon the aforesaid letters, said Justice UB Saha.

The MHRC Chairperson then observed that the people may not have fled if the authorities concerned had acted on the request of the CM's office in time.

"We are not expressing any opinion regarding the statements made in the complaint petition at the motion stage before getting the preliminary status report from the concerned authorities, however we are prima facie of the view that if the authorities concerned acted on the request of the Secretary to the Chief Minister, Manipur as well as the message of the District Police, Jiribam in time, then probably more than hundreds of families would not leave their houses due to the alleged firing by the alleged Kuki-Zo militants," said Justice UB Saha.

The MHRC then issued notice, returnable on July 11, upon DGP Rajiv Singh, Security Advisor Kuldeip Singh, Chief Secretary, Commissioner (Home), DC Jiribam, SP Jiribam District as well as the Secretary to Chief Minister.

It impleaded the Secretary to the CM in the case for proper hearing, and also directed the DGP to furnish a preliminary status report on or before July 11 and listed the day as the date for next hearing.


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