For the last one month Manipur has been reeling under an unprecedented turmoil with prolonged imposition of curfew besides general strikes, mass court arrest, state wide sit-in protest urging the immediate resignation of Chief Minister O. Ibobi Singh, punishment of police commandos involved in 23rd July incident in which one Chungkham Sanjit Meitei was killed in a fake encounter at B.T. Road Imphal by police commandos. One pregnant young woman Ms Rabina Devi was also killed by the stray bullet of commandos just before they killed Sanjit in cold blood besides injuring five other people. The normal life of the people of the state is totally crippled, while children at large being traumatized and are deprived of the right to education.
In the meantime, the magnitude of victimizing the innocent children in the unsafe environment of this conflict torn state can be seen in the incident of wrongful detention of one eleven years old Salam Bidyarani Devi by state police. The 11 year old girl child Salam Bidyarani Devi of Nongmaikhong Awang Leikai, Thoubal District, daughter of S. Devan Singh was picked up by a combined force of Manipur police and security personal of 12 Martha Light Infantry on 14 August, 2009 just on the eve of independence day of India, during a combing operation from the house of this child. The girl child who is a student of class VI in Emmanual Grace Academy, Nongmaikhong was picked up by police as they could not apprehend the parents who freed away leaving the child alone. Police detained the child at their custody at Mayang Imphal Police Station till 18th August, 2009. She was released at the late night of 18 August following a strong pressure from media, civil society organizations and NGOs. The child was brought home at around 4.30 P.M. of 19th August in a traumatic mental state. She got fainted now and then and not in a condition to response to the query of media and right activists. Now she is undergoing treatment at Psychiatry Ward of Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) Imphal. Medical support to the poor child and bringing justice to her is highly needed. Members of Manipur Alliance for Child Rights (MACR) and Coalition on Children Right to Protection (CCRP) Manipur took part in the initiative of her safe release.
However, police defended themselves saying they did not arrest Bidyarani, but gave her medical care by admitting her at one private hospital and later kept her at their custody as no responsible male guardian of the girl child was not available to whom she would be handed over. Field report contradicted the police version and stated that police picked the child and detained for many days at their captivity telling the girl would not be released until and unless the parents of Bidyarani are produced before the police. Policed charged the parents of the girl child to be the sympathizers of PLA, an insurgent outfit. This arbitrary detention of an innocent girl child reveals the collapsing juvenile justice system in the state and failure of rule of law at large.
The state is virtually under fire, with publication of sequential photographs by Tehalka showing how Manipur Police Commandos apprehended and killed Mr. Chungkham Sanjit Meitai after taken him into a nearby Pharmacy at B.T. Road Imphal on 23rd July, 2009.. Apunba Lup an apex body of civil society bodies launched a series of agitation by calling a two day general strike on 3-4 August. They demanded the immediate resignation of CM O. Ibobi owning the moral responsibility for giving a false statement of the 23/7 incident in the Assembly. Following the Telhalka's exposure, Manipur govt. had put 5 police commando under suspension and judicial inquiry was announced. However Apunba Lup demanded an exemplary action against the guilty police personnel who killed Sanjit in fake encounter only to justify their previous action causing the murder of a pregnant woman.
In the case of the pregnant mother a seer negligence and irresponsible nature of the police was reflected. Firstly, the bullet ridden body of Rabina Devi remained lying on the road side for around 2 hours, while her 3 years old son was crying besides her. Secondly, Police roughly dumped her body in a iron lorry along with the death body of Sanjit much after the first incident, and placed the two death bodies at morgue. Police did not take any conscious step to evacuate Rabina from the spot, and no possible process was considered to save the life of an unborn child still surviving inside the womb.. Anybody could recognize that the woman was pregnant since she bore visible physical appearance of a pregnant woman. One senior nurse of RIMS hospital who examined her dead body later commented that she was conceived with a 7 month fetus and the unborn child could had been saved, had the police brought her body to hospital in time. This also the vivid example of denying the right of a child ( though unborn) to life by the state.
The Apunba Lup's mass agitation kicked off on 3rd August by calling 2 day general strike. In order to suppress the simultaneous agitation of the enraged people, state imposed curfew in Greater Imphal which was latter extended to whole Imphal east and west district since late evening of 4th August. Police resorted ruthless violent action against the agitators using mock bombs, tear gas, rubber bullets and in many cases they fired real bullets. Many agitators inflicted injuries and one of the agitators lost his eyes due to bullet injury and now struggling for life. All the schools run by both private and government in the two district, remained closed from 4th August uptil 16th August. Schools reopened on 17th August as curfew was lifted for 12 Hours from 6 A.M., however compelled to close down again subsequently on 18 and 19 August as there were two days general strike being called by Apunba Lup. Still uncertainty is looming large and possibility imposition of curfew is very high. The prevailing situation and decision of the state grossly affects the academic atmosphere of the students and normal life of the people at large. An amicable democratic solution is highly called for. We appealed all concern to extend your possible solidarity, intervention and co-operation to protect rights of the conflict inflicted children of Manipur in particular and human rights of the people in general.
We the undersigned, on behalf of the people of Manipur hereby submit the memorandum with an earnest hope that your Excellency will intervene the matter and deliver justice.
1. In the firing incident of 23 July, 2009 occurred at B.T. Road Imphal in which Ch. Sanjit Meitei and one pregnant woman Mrs Th. Rabina Devi were killed, we demand your kind intervention to take up prompt action to give befitting legal punishment to the culprits and any kind of possible help to the deceased families.
2. In case of Rabina, since she was killed along with a 7 month unborn child (foetus) in her womb, it was a fact that the aforesaid child could have been saved, had the police rushed Rabina to hospital immediately. However, irresponsible police personnel took no step to save the life of Rabina and her unborn child, the dead body remained lying flat, unattended on the roadside for about 2 hours. Police latter dumped the body very ruthlessly into a lorry and placed thereafter into RIMS morgue directly.
3. State should be held responsible for deaths of seven month unborn child of Rabina. Rabina's family must be compensated with for death of two persons, Rabina and her child.
4. State should sponsor full educational support to the 3 years old son of late Rabina. Since the 3 years old boy was deeply traumatized as his mother was brutally killed before his very sight and long term psychological negative effect to the child is very imminent.
5. State should book and punish police personal and security personnel involved in wrongful detention of one eleven year girl child Baby Salam Bidyarani Devi at Mayang Imphal police station from 14 to 18 August, 2009.
6. State should sponsor medical treatment of baby S. Bidyarani, who is under treatment at RIMS Psychiatry ward as she became so traumatized following the incident. The arbitrary detention of the girl child is unconstitutional and violation of Juvenile Justice (care & protection of Children) Amendment Act. 2006.
7. State should give financial support and sponsor her education as a compensation for torturing the child psychologically through arbitrary detention and humiliation.
8. State should take up immediate measures to stop further traumatizing activities of Assam Rifles to maintain peaceful environment in hill districts particularly at Ukhrul district.
9. Urged upon to bring a peaceful and secured environment in hill areas, particularly in Ukhrul district for enabling the children to attend their schools normally.
10. State should set up adequate number of Shelter Home and Children Homes for girl child since the state has only one girl shelter home till now.
State should arrange necessary measures to make functional of all the educational institutions in the state, so that the right to education of the children are not deprived further amidst the unrest political situation in the state.
Montu Ahanthem Manipur Alliance for Child Rights (MACR)
S. Devi Coalition on Children's Rights to Protection, Manipur (CCRP)
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