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July 23

by IT Web Admin
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Today, seven years back to the day, an audacious incident at the heart of the capital of Manipur rocked the nation, with reverberations reaching the highest echelons of human rights activists and organizations the world over. July 23, 2009 will go down the history of the state, and perhaps the nation as the day the scale tipped against the increasingly impudent state-sponsored spate of fake encounters systematically perpetrated by the state and central security forces against the public on the merest suspicion of being in connection with any of the mushrooming armed militant groups in the state. The incident also brought to the limelight the abject failure (read deliberate oversight) of the state government to rein in its security machinery nor keep the central forces under control, emboldened as they are with the Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958 still continuing to shield them from any and every form of prosecution. The gruesome incident of July 23 of 2009 where an alleged member of an underground group was killed in an encounter at the heart of Imphal city in broad daylight also blotted out the life of a pregnant lady bystander, a collateral damage for the security forces and a small compensation for the state government- a minor irritant for being able to wash their hands off the sordid incident. The July 23 incident also sparked a slew of allegations and charges of fake encounters from several quarters of the public against the state and central security forces which were eventually forced to be legally reviewed. In 2013, the Santosh Hegde Commission, set up by the Supreme Court, probed six “sample cases of alleged fake encounters” in that year and found that every one of them “had not been an encounter’’ and had not been carried out by the security forces in self-defence. The commission further found that in all six cases, the perpetrators (in many cases a combined force of the Assam Rifles and the Manipuri Commandos) were also the investigators and that police officials involved in an encounter would lodge an FIR against the victim. 
What comes as a shock is the reluctance of the state government to provide even the most basic assurances of security for the public while going out of its way to protect the perpetrators of these innumerable instances of state-sponsored terrorism. The unchecked and increasing cases of blatant abuse of power by the security forces triggered a psychological and emotional rift with the general public, and the increasing race for “Recommendations” and “Gallantry” rewards amongst the security personnel translating into promotions, financial incentives and favorable service options, generously doled out by the state government without even the perfunctory investigations have projected the public as a source of ‘easy pickings’ for the unscrupulous lot who are authorized to use deadly force as required. It is no surprise that confessions of the constable on the incident of July 23 have shook the very foundation of administration in the state, and the disgruntled public will not be forgetting the incident in a hurry, for when the protectors become perpetrators of crime, then the public is left with no other option but to work towards bringing a radical change. The naïve and trusting public have been shortchanged once too often. Recent indications strongly suggest the situation is about to change, hopefully for the better.   

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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