Imphal, Aug. 10:
Four RTI activists, all from Senapati district have reportedly absconded from their respective houses after cadres of NSCN-IM had threatened them with dire consequences in connection to the RTI filed by them enquiring about developmental works to the district authority. Report with the Imphal Times said that the cadres of the NSCN-IM, presently ensuing peace talk with the government of India are searching their whereabouts and as a result, the 4 of them are taking refuge somewhere in Imphal.
In connection with the threat to the life of the four RTI activists Movement for Peoples’ Rights Forum, Manipur (MPRFM) had submitted a representation to Union Minister of Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah to protect the lives of four 4 RTI Activists of Senapati District
The memorandum stated that the threat has escalated recently as the NSCN (I-M) has started to search for the victims. So, the victims may face unfortunate incidents as the curfew of Covid-19 is relaxed, the memorandum added.
As per the memorandum, it is reported that the NSCN (I-M), Shepoumaramth Region has been issuing repeated notices for death threat and intimidation to the RTI users in Senapati District of Manipur forcing them to go into hiding and as such, now, three of them are taking shelter at Imphal since March 2020 to till date. Now, the life of these citizens is under serious threat-namely (i) Kh. Inoch S/o Mr.Khulu of Phaibung Village, Senapati District, Manipur (ii) Mr. P. Johnson Samo S/O Late Pazii, Taphou Phyamai Village, Senapati District, Manipur, (iii) Mr. S.P. Benjamin S/o Mr. Simthar of Ngari Raidulomai Village, Senapati District, Manipur and (iv) Mr. P.R. Amose S/o Rozii of Khabung Khunou Village, P.O. Karong who are exercising their right to information. All the victims are belonging to the Schedule Tribes of Senapati District of Manipur. But Mr. Kh. Inoch is still staying in his village like house arrest that he cannot move outside the village without the permission of the armed group.
The memorandum further stated that the Central Government has been sanctioning huge amounts of funds in terms of crores of rupees for the development of these districts in all spheres through the State Government in coordination with all the respective Autonomous District Councils constituted in these districts. The Government of Manipur has also allocated a huge amount of funds for the development of these districts and the Department of Hill Affairs, Government of Manipur has also taken up various welfare schemes. But the funds that have been sanctioned to the respective Autonomous District Council of these Hill Districts have been misappropriated and wrongfully utilised by the concerned public servants/authorities in collusion with the elected.
On 5th November 2019, Mr. Kh. Inoch submitted an application to the State Public Information Officer(SPIO)/Chief Executive Officer, ADC, Senapati District, Manipur for seeking certain information regarding the details of development works and funds mean for tribal areas implemented in the 17-Phaibung Autonomous District Council under the RTI Act.
On 28th September 2019, Mr. P.Johnson submitted an application to the State Public Information Officer/Chief Executive Officer, Autonomous District Council, Senapati District, Manipur for seeking certain information regarding funds sanctioned and execution of different work programmes under various departments implemented in the 16-Phuba Autonomous District Council (ADC) for the years from 2015 to 2019 under RTI Act. On 24th October 2019, Mr. S.P. Benjamin submitted an application to the State Public Information Officer (SPIO)/Deputy Commissioner, Senapati District, Manipur under RTI Act for seeking some information regarding the development works implemented under the award of 13th and 14th Finance Commission in the 16-Phuba, ADC, Senapati District for the year from years from 2015 to till date. Similarly, on 2nd November 2020, Mr.P.R. Amose also submitted an RTI application to the SPIO/D.C. Senapati District for seeking information regarding the financial expenditure of 24-Karong ADC. Not getting the required information, the applicants filed their Second Appeals before the Manipur Information Commission after filling First Appeal. But instead of providing information as well as the reply of the show-cause notices issued by the Information Commission, the Public Authority has been challenging the said four impugned show cause notices before the High Court of Manipur. Meanwhile, the SPIO/CEO, ADC, Senapati District has been imposed a fine of Rs.25000/-by the Information Commission for each appeal mentioned above and as such, all the four appeals are pending before the High Court till date.
On 20th January 2020, Mr. Inoch, an RTI Activist was abducted by some cadres of NSCN (I-M) under the command of Mr. Lohrii, Central Administrative Officer of Shepoumaramth Region for not obeying to withdraw RTI applications. He was taken to their custody and tortured for several days until his eventual surrender thereof. He was only released after a heavy fine and a forced agreement with harsh terms and conditions to silence him. Meanwhile, the other three Activists have fled from their respective villages and are now hiding somewhere in Imphal. It is also a fact that one Mr. Dalounii, another RTI activist along with 28 other villagers of Phuba Village also filed a joint application under the RTI Act to the CEO, ADC Senapati in support of the previous RTI applications. He too was abducted and was forced to surrender with a heavy fine for seeking information through RTI. Having on other efficacious, the above named RTI user have filed three complaints to the Chairperson, Manipur Lokayukta to look into the matter as the said development works have not ever been executed in the field. Now, many RTI users of Naga inhabited districts of Manipur including the above mentioned citizens of Senapati have been threatened and intimidated by the NSCN (I-M).On 6th August 2021, in Hornbill Express, a Daily newspaper published in Senapati only, Mr.Dalounii has clarified that he has not been threatened and the two collective leaders are revered senior Naga National workers but this clarification is also under duress and threatened if it is asked to the citizens of Phuba Village.
The memorandum further stated that one Human Right Defender namely W. Joykumar Singh of Imphal filed complaints to (a) the NHRC(diary number 5898/IN/2021), (b) IGAR (Sought), Assam Rifles, Imphal (c) National Investigation Agency, New Delhi and Director General of Police, Manipur along with all the facts and circumstances. Moreover, National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) submitted a complaint to HM Amit Shah, on 30th June 2021. However, no satisfactory action has been taken up to date. It is reported that recently on 20th July 2021, the three RTI users, who are hiding at Imphal, have been intimidated seriously through mobile phone by saying “ You will be killed before disposing of your cases if you do not surrender to the NSCN(I-M)” by some cadres of the armed group. It is believed that the three RTI users may be surely killed when the ongoing curfew of the pandemic covid-19 is over and as such, appropriate necessary action may be taken up immediately.
In view of the above facts and circumstances, we would like to draw your kind and prompt attention immediately to ensure the safety, security and well-being of above named RTI users of Manipur as the Government of India has been negotiating Cease Fire Agreement with the NSCN (I-M) since 1997, the memorandum said.