New Delhi: Justice WA Shishak, former Chief Justice of Chhattisgarh and Himachal Pradesh High Court, emphasised on the need for appointment of people with honesty, integrity and impeccable character to strengthen the Manipur State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC).
Pointing out that the state has been neglected for long and has been battling with serious human rights violations, he made a strong plea for treating the people of Manipur with dignity to create a just society.
Shishak, who is also a former chairperson of the MSHRC, expressed his views at a consultation on ‘Potential Transitional Justice Framework for Manipur’ held in New Delhi recently. It was organised by the Centre for Human Rights Studies (CHRS) and the Centre for the Study of Knowledge Systems of Jindal Global Law School (JGLS), OP Jindal Global University (JGU).
The consultation analysed the applicability of a suitable transitional justice model with a strong focus on effective transition from conflict to peace and reconciliation in the state of Manipur. Panelists deliberated on factors which lead to the erosion of accountability in relation to human rights violations perpetrated by the security forces and insurgent groups in the region.
In his welcome address, Professor (Dr) YSR Murthy, executive director, Centre for Human Rights Studies, JGU said, “Torture, disappearances and extra-judicial killings are very serious human rights violations and each such allegation must be thoroughly investigated and justice is provided to victims or to their next of kin. In this context, the situation of widows and children orphaned by conflict must be fully addressed. Our centre is preparing a report in this regard to advance the cause of rule of law and justice.”
Professor (Dr) Shiv Visvanathan, professor and vice -dean, JGLS, and director, Centre for the Study of Knowledge Systems, JGU, said, “This room has a wider audience and a wider group of human activists who are worried about the Indian democracy. These three activists from Manipur are also storytellers, one talking from the conflict perspective, one looking at human rights, one begins as a victim, becomes a storyteller and an activist for an entire community. So we have these three perspectives, may be three kinds of theories to look at the question of Manipur. We might be tired of Manipur, but Manipur is not yet tired of Indian democracy.”
Babloo Loitongbam, director, Human Rights Alert, Manipur, said, “We have organised the victims together and have filed 1,528 cases in the Supreme Court which is a class in itself. We started this journey six years ago in 2012 by filing a PIL in Supreme Court and till now we have not seen any clear indication that for sure justice will be done. We are making good progress but still seem to be as far from justice as we were when we started in 2012. It is time for us to look at the whole phenomena of this impunity, promoted by AFSPA, and its effects over a prolonged period of time.”
Sanjoy Hazarika, director, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), said, “In an environment of impunity and intimidation fostered by archaic laws such as AFSPA, truth-seeking and truth-telling is very difficult as is upholding the rights and the interests of the victims. These laws defy logic and need to go.”
According to Satnam Bains, director, Punjab Documentation & Advocacy Project (PDAP), “We must learn from the experiences from Punjab, where impunity led to innumerable problems in addressing accountability or even documenting the extra-judicial killings. What the Manipur civil society has done is remarkable but they must be mindful of the challenges that lie ahead in finding out the complete truth.”
The aim of the consultation was to bring together participants, such as the victim families, academics, NGOs, journalists, researchers, in order to inform the deliberations regarding peace, justice, conflicts and reconciliation issues. The consultation concluded with an agreed road map to work on a potential transitional justice framework, in relation to Manipur.