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Source: [The Sangai Express]

IMPHAL, Aug 2, 2009 : With the damning sequence of pic-tures, released by Tehelka, detailing the frisking of Chongkham Sanjit, to the moment he was pushed inside a pharmacy by police commandos before his lifeless body was taken out, with the claim that he was killed in a shoot out, outraging the people of the State, residents of Khurai, the locality from which the late man hailed from, came out on the streets and protested against the ‘alleged’ custodial killing.

A torch rally was also staged later in the evening to denounce the killing and to demand punishment of the personnel involved in the cold blooded killing.
With all the dailies published from Imphal, carrying the damning sequence of pictures, people of Khurai started streaming out on the road from morning today and blocked the Khurai Tinseed road, demanding action against the guilty police commandos.

Road blocks were put up to give vent to their anger and Lamlong Keithel remained closed for the day.

To control the situation, a strong team of Imphal East police personnel rushed to the area and used water cannons and fired mock bombs to disperse the protestors.

The protestors, including men and women, retaliated by pelting stones and other objects at the police personnel.

There is however no report of any casualty on the part of the protestors.

Raising slogans demanding punishment of the police commandos and alleging that Sanjit was killed in cold blood, the protestors marched up to Lamlong bazar.

Additional police force led by the SP of Imphal East, Th Radheshyam rushed to the site to control the situation.

To protest the alleged custodial killing of Sanjit, members of the Thongju Students Welfare Committee and Meira Paibis torched the effigies of Chief Minister O Ibobi, DGP Y Joykumar and police commandos, today evening.

On the other hand sit-in-protests were held today to condemn the killing of Th Rabina at Singda bazar, Kangchup bazar, Phayeng, Heibong Makhong and Lairenkabi.

Rabina was killed in the BT Road incident on July 23.

Meanwhile a large number of people came out on the street and took out a torch rally in the evening today at Khurai area.

The rallyists tried to march upto Lamlong bazar, but were dispersed by police, who fired tear gas shells.

The protestors retaliated with catapults and pelted stones, but were ultimately driven back.

A number of civil society organisations have also come out strongly against the alleged custodial killing of Sanjit and demanded a Judicial inquiry.

Warning that they would launch a series of agitation, the organisations also demanded the resignation of Chief Minister O Ibobi, for misleading the members of the Assembly as well as the people of the State.


Bodies threaten agitation, bay for CM’s head

IMPHAL, Aug 2: Reacting to the expose by Tehelka news weekly whose photos highlighted excesses committed by police comman- dos, several organisations have strongly advocated institution of a judicial inquiry in addition to threa- tening launch of intense agitation.

Moreover, these organisations accusing the Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh of misleading the citizens in general and members of the State Legislative Assembly in particular demanded that the CM need not cling onto the highest post of an elected Government.

The CM should immediately resign owning morale responsibility for the intentional execution of Ch Sanjit and the pregnant Rabina Devi on July 23 and injuries suffered by five others, the bodies asserted.

Serving an ultimatum to the State Government that commandos involved in the killing of Ch Sanjit be punished within August 5, an NGO namely All communities United Front (ACUF) proclaimed that failure to take punitive action would be followed by intense agitation, including general strike.

Speaking to media-persons at its Naoremthong office today, ACUF general secretary L Mangal con-tended that photos released by Tehelka unarguably illustrate that Sanjit was slain in a stage-managed encounter with such cruel intention of the police commandos resulting in the death of the pregnant Rabina Devi besides injuring five others.

He also observed that inspite of the photos clearly implicating police commandos in the July 23 firing at BT Road and exposing ceaseless excesses committed by the men in uniform, absence of appropriate measures from the side of the Government to reign in such rogue securitymen tantamount to encouraging wanton killings of the citizens.

Insisting that commando personnel involved in the extra-judicial killing be identified and punitive action be taken within the stipulated period, the ACUF functionary reiterated any laxity by the Government on the issue would be strongly opposed.

Mangal further announced that besides targeting Government properties and establishment various intense form of agitation would be launched.

Meanwhile, a statement of Ethno Heritage council said with the Tehelka photos illustrating beyond doubt that police commandos were actually responsible for causing the deaths and injuries during the BT Road firing, the CM need not hesitate from stepping down on morale ground while all the 60 MLAs owe an apology o the people for failure to live upto expectation of the electorates.

Observing that the CM not only mislead the Assembly but betrayed the people by covering up cruelty of the commandos, the Council also asserted that as member of the Opposition party too failed to enact their assigned task apology to the people is inevitable.

The Council also asked all the 60 legislators to ensure that the entire truth about the killing of Sanjit and Rabina, and wounding of the five others be thoroughly investigated so that the perpetrators are punished accordingly.

Venting similar sentiment and anguish against high-handedness of police commandos, All India Students’ Federation (Manipur State Council), All Manipur Shops & Establishment Employees Association, Manipur State Council of All India Youth Federation and Sharmila Kanba Lup also demanded institution of judicial enquiry.


Protectors to predators

At the time of his death, or when he was gunned down by State police commandos at BT Road on July 23, 2009, Chungkham Sanjit was a civilian and a free citizen of India. As per police record, he was at one time a member of the proscribed PLA and he was arrested in 2000 and later jailed under the National Security Act in 2007 and released a year later. He had to make periodic appearances before the Court but this was lifted later. There is no contestation on this ground. The contestation however is over the question, was he killed in an encounter, as alleged by the police, or was he killed in custody ? The sequence of photo-graphs released by news magazine Tehelka debunk the encounter theory floated by the police, but of course there is something called digitally manipulating photographs, and it is this which the State Government will bank on, to bail them out. But let us not forget, a picture speaks a thousand words and multiply that by seven pictures, in fact, a sequence of what actually happened on July 23, then a highly plausible picture of State terrorism emerges. For years, the Congress dominated, not led, SPF Government has been using State violence as a caveat to mean that it means business when it comes to dealing with proscribed members, dubbed or otherwise, and nothing illustrates this better than the sermon delivered by Chief Minister O Ibobi on the floor of the House that it was time to show who rules the land, ‘Us or Them.’ So was killing Sanjit, then, a demonstration to show who rules the land, Mr Chief Minister, Sir ? We raise this question, because the statement was made on July 23 evening, when the BT Road incident came up for discussion in the Assembly. Also remember, this statement came just as news of the tragic death of a young pregnant woman, in the same incident, was beginning to sink into the consciousness of the public.

We have already raised the question of whose bullet or bullets killed the young pregnant woman, Th Rabina at BT Road on July 23, and now the pictures from Tehelka have given a new dimension to the whole drama. As per the statement, prepared by the police and read out by the Chief Minister in the Assembly, Sanjit was killed in an encounter and it was also implied very clearly that Rabina was killed when Sanjit indiscriminately fired towards the public. The interesting point here is, if the pictures are found genuine, then will the police be slapped with a Privilege case for misleading the Chief Minister to deliver a pack of lies on the floor of the Assembly ? It is anybody’s guess, but yes the pictures from Tehelka have proven to be a rallying point for the people to come out against the continuing violence perpetrated by the State. For too long, the State police commandos have been given the long rope, that today they have climbed the evolutionary ladder, on the reverse, from the ‘protectors of the people’ to ’the predators of the people.’ Chief Minister O Ibobi and the mandarins at Delhi may brush aside allegations of State terrorism, for as representatives of the State, they have the power to define what is terrorism, but this is no ground that State terrorism will not stick in the perception of the people, for terrorism or acts of terror and human rights abuses, cannot be strait jacketed into narrow, legal definitions.

This should hold true for ever-yone and not only the Government. When the State begins to target civilians and gives a free hand to its armed personnel to unleash terror, then it reflects that it is losing the battle against the insurgents. Is the SPF Government keen to reverse this and start by letting heads roll in connection with the present case ? The Magisterial probe instead of a Judicial inquiry, however, has come like a bucket of cold water after a hot shower !

- The Sangai Express

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