By – Rebati Raman,
North East Dialouge Forum
(1) Many civil society organizations and NGOs, network of NGOs of indigenous people, religious institutions, and indigenous Women’s organizations working in Manipur for peace building and human rights since four decades to repeal Armed Forces (Special Power). Manipur was merged to India in 1949 with the instrument of controversial Merger Agreement. Indian parliament enacted the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in 1958 on 22 May and imposed on all the regions of the North-East states of India to be ruled by the Indian Army under AFSPA. AFSPA is –according to Amnesty International (1997) – the undeclared emergency without reason for unlimited period of time. (2) Why do we provide this information and request your action? We believe that the military operations under AFSPA in Manipur and the North East of India in general correspond to grave and systematic human rights violations of the civilian population, infringements with the International Humanitarian Law, and even include aspects of ethnic cleansing. Following, we present a number of facts also in their historic dimension which may allow understanding our position. (3) Operation Blue Bird (1985) in Oinam village: 27 people were killed after being brutally tortured. 96 villagers (including women and children, aged person) were kept in the detention centre for 3 months. Two women were forced to give birth in the open field in front of the soldier, the mothers were forced to work for the paramilitary Assam Rifles on the day of delivery, and hundreds of villagers were forced to labor for the Assam Rifles for months without payment. The Indian Army never allowed entering the representatives of the civil administration to provide support to the victims and investigation of the case by police. Members of the Indian Army committed mass raped in the detention centre. (4) Operation in Patsoi village: On 26 of April, 1980, an operation was conducted at Patsoi located near Imphal town of Manipur. Several incidents of rape and maiming women were reported during the operation. A pregnant woman was shot while she was hiding in her granary. Men and women were stripped naked; nearly 50 men were savagely beaten. 3 people (including a woman) were killed. (5) Operation Summer Storm (2009): Since April 10, 2009, a security operation called “Operation Summer Storm” at Loktak Lake was launched by the 57th Mountain Division to flash off militants from that area. Hundreds of people were displaced. Some of them were used as human shields by the security forces. It is reported that 12 persons were shot dead by them. (6) Further operations of that pattern: Operation Stinger (2005) at Loktak Area; Operation Somtal no.I (2006) and Operation Somtal no. II (2007) at Somtal area, Operation Sunny Vale (1993) ,Operation Tornado (2005) in Jiribam subdivision, Operation Dragnet (2006) at Parbung and Thanlon Division.
Operations in Assam in terms of military strikes against the rebel movement ULFA (Operation Bajrang 1990, Operation Rhino 1991, Operation Rhino 2 in 2000) which always victimized civil population.1 (7) Massacres in Manipur: (i)HeirangoithongMassacre (1984):Thousands were watching a volley ball match at the Heirangoithong Volley Ball Ground in Imphal. Some extremists tried to snatch weapons from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel there which resulted in the CRPF to resort to firing killing five people. The CRPF at the spot then began to shoot indiscriminately at the crowd. Thirteen people were killed and 31 injured in the firing that went on for half an hour. (ii) Tera Bazar Massacre, March 25, 1993: Unidentified youth shot at CRPF personnel at Tera Keithel, Imphal which killed 2 CRPF men. Thereafter, the CRPF personnel rushed out and fired indiscriminately. Five civilians were killed and many others received bullet injuries. However, no enquiry has been instituted to date.(iii)Regional Medical College Massacre: On the morning of January 7, 1995, (CRPF) shot dead nine innocent persons at the Regional Medical College, Imphal, in retaliation to attacks on them by the members of an armed opposition group.(iv) Malom Massacre: November 2, 2000: Assam Rifles convoy was attacked near Malom, Manipur by insurgents. In retaliation, the troops shot at civilians at a nearby bus-stop leaving 10 civilians dead, including a 60 year old woman and a boy who had been awarded the bravery award by the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. A brutal combing operation followed.
(8)Other massacres in Manipur: OinamLeikai Massacre on November 21, 1980, Ukhrul Massacres on May 9, 1995, Bashikhong massacre on February 19, 1995, Churachandpur Massacres on July 21, 1999, Nungleiban Massacre on October 15, 1997, Tabokpikhong Massacres on August 12, 1997, and Tonsen Lamkhai Massacres on September 3, 2000.2 (9) Concentration Camps in Mizoram :In January 1967, 75 villages were grouped in 15 grouping centres and during1968 to 1970, 367 villages were grouped in 73 grouping centre.When the villagers were led out of the villages, the security forces burnt down all their houses. There was no sanitation plan; they faced many problems, water and waste disposal. They were compelled to build the camp, dig trenches and bunkers, build fences, do the work of the porters, to fetch water for security forces. They did all the work without getting any money. Only a meagre amount of food was given, hungry children wept and cried for food. Famine swept the grouping centres and epidemic prevailed. They were not allowed to work in the fields for agriculture as they used to do before.
(10) Operation in Mizoram:(i) Air Raids: On 5_ 6th March, 1966, the Indian Airforce conducted aerial bombardment at Aizawl town after the Assam Rifle Camp was attacked by the Mizo National Front (MNF)two days before. While dropping the bombs over civilian residences, the Indian Army fired their heavy machine guns on scattered places not only on the position of MNF but anywhere of the town.
(ii) Air raids at Khawzawl (Champhai District): On 6th& 7th March 1966, two planes started dropping bombs over Khawzawl district. The planes struck the village 4 times and totally destroyed seven houses and four ships. (iii) Air raids at Pukpui (Lunglei district):the Indian Army attacked Pukpui village after MNF had over ran the Indian Armed Forces and took their weapons. It dropped bombs and fired its machine guns. Many houses were burnt to ashes. (iv) Air raids on Vartekkai and S. Mualthuam (Southern Mizoram): On 6th September 1966, when people came from their jhum cultivation work and when children were waiting for their parents to come home, the Indian Army war plane attacked the village of Vartekkai. The plane further attacked Mualthuam village and dropped bombs one after another. (v) Similar air raids were carried out in Tlabung on 9.3.1966, Hnahlan on 7.3.1966, Sangau on 8.2.1966, Bunghmun on 23.3.1966,Hmuntlang on 1.2.1967. (11) Why do we speak in terms of ethnic cleansing and genocide? Manipur is inhabited by ethnic groups broadly classified into Meitei, Meitei Muslim, Nagas and Kuki. The last two are concentrated in the hill areas while other are concentrated in the plain areas. Manipur has been witnessing armed conflicts between government, several insurgent groups, and ethnic groups.
(12) Historic conflicts: (a) Naga Kuki conflict (1992-1999):During the Naga-Kuki conflict in Manipur, in Nagaland and Assam were 2124 civilians killed including children and pregnant women, 285 villages were destroyed, 6000 houses were burnt, 10,000 school children and 15,000 people were directly affected and their human rights violated. (b) Meitei-Muslim:During the Meitei-Muslim violent conflict in 1993, 140 people were killed, 25 others were injured. The Muslim armed group PULF emerged with the support of the Indian Army to counter Meitei armed groups.(c)Kuki-Paite conflict: Lasting from June 1997 to October 1998 and by the end over 50 villages were destroyed and some 13,000 people were displaced. According to the Government of Manipur, the communal violence claimed the lives of 352 persons, injured 136 and reduced 4,670 homes to ash. In 2012, the violent conflict in Kokrajhar District of Assam, which took place between two communities of Bodo and Bangali speaking Muslims, more than 90 lives were claimed, 11 people were reported missing and over 400,000 people were internally displaced and sought shelter in 270 relief camps.3 In Manipur there is report of involuntary disappearances of 28 civilians in 2000s. (13) Recently, on 23rd December 2014, 96 Christian Adivasi and Bodo communities in Assam were killed and more than 200 innocent villagers were injured including women and children. The Government of India spread the allegation that the massacre was committed by the National Democratic Front of Bodoland which hardly has the capacity to strike such violence at 6 different places at the same time. Mr. Ripun Bora, the Ex-Minister on Education in Assam made a statement on 25th March 20154that he had received the report from villagers that the armed people were in full camouflage with sophisticated weapons andspeaking only in Hindi. Still, the Government of India denies any independent investigation.
(14)Human Skulls: Several human skulls were found in the Tombisana High school complex located in Imphal City, which was occupied by central paramilitary forces during the peak of insurgency in the early 1980s and 1990s in Imphal West district of Manipur.On December 26, 2014 a senior police said that the school complex was occupied by the central paramilitary forces from 1980 to 1999.During that time, many youth was made disappeared by the armed forces. Local dailies published front page photos of the skulls while various organizations demanded DNA tests.5)
(15) Disappearance, torture and killing : Since 1992 to 2017, the total number of 18,791 people were extra-judicially executed in the North East of India by the Indian Army, the Indian Police and allied paramilitary forces in the name of counter insurgency. The fatal consequences were spread such as 7448 people in Assam, 5101 (Manipur), 2266 (Nagaland), 3031 (Tripura), and 598 (Meghalaya).6 Thousands of civilians were brutally beaten up which lead to physically disable, electric shook at the body and private parts, putting nails inside the fingers, water were pouring on the face which were covered with cloth for hours, using electric chair etc. We have thousands of cases of disappearance during the counter Terrorism activities of India Armed forces under AFSPA.
Some background information
(16) 15 members of parliaments from eight states in the North-East of India attended a meeting with civil society representatives on 3rd December 2014 and supported to repeal AFSPA; as did a number of commissions contributed by the Government of India in previous times. The Government, however, decided not to take up such recommendations but to extend AFSPA in Manipur, Tripura, Assam and other North-East states of India in December 2014 till 2015. Recently, AFSPA was renewed in Nagaland as well. Many international organizations including International Commission of Jurist strongly denounced the government of India and its continuous refusal to repeal AFSPA.7 (17) Since 1997, ICCPR with deep concern urges the Government of India to repeal AFSPA. CERD also recommended repealing AFSPA (in terms of racist discrimination) in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 under the Early Warning procedure. The former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navi Pillay (2009), the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders (2011), the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions (2012) and the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women (2013) recommended in their reports to the Human Rights Council (HRC) in the subsequent years 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2014to repeal AFSPA too. They were invited by the Government of India to visit India including the North-Eastern states. Prof. Christof Heyns, the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions, also stated that he was confused of the response by the Supreme Court of India at that time to decline investigating into the cases of human rights violations under AFSPA which was applied for by the Naga People’s Movement for Human Right in 1997. The facts which are sighted above are the few reasons why we call unitedly to repeal the draconian act AFSPA.
“REPEAL AFSPA, 1958 IMMIDIATELY!”