Babloo Loitongbam
Babloo Loitongbam, executive director, Human Rights Alert (HRA) Credit: EastMojo image

Imphal: Human Rights Alert (HRA) executive director Babloo Loitongbam expressed disappointment at the closure report submitted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) concerning 14 civilians killed in 2001 in an alleged CRPF firing.

Loitongbam said that the inability of the country’s premier investigative agency to establish such an open and well-known incident in Manipur is ‘unfortunate’.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) recently submitted its closure report in the June 2001 Manipur protests, citing insufficient evidence after investigating the case for almost two decades.

A massive protest held in Imphal in 2001 saw 14 protestors killed in alleged CRPF firing. However, the closure report of the CBI in respect of the extrajudicial execution of the June incident contradicts the Justice C Upendra Judicial Commission of Inquiry, which blamed the force for mishandling the situation and aggravating it unnecessarily.

“We are very disappointed to see that the CBI has basically submitted the closure report saying that there is not enough evidence to establish beyond reasonable doubt for killings of 14 unarmed protestors who were protesting in the streets of Imphal on that fateful day,” said Loitongbam.

“The closure report of the CBI is the classic example of a perfunctory investigation, and the history of Manipur will be written in the wrong light, and without completing responsible behaviour of the state,” lamented Loitongbam.

According to Loitongbam, the families of the deceased, as well as the Extrajudicial Executions Victims Families Association (EEVFAM), have filed a protest petition against the closure report on November 27 to the chief judicial magistrate (CJM) of Imphal West district. The families have also asked the Manipur High Court to direct a fresh investigation into the case and are hopeful of a positive response, it said.

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Soon after the fateful incident, the state government constituted a commission of inquiry, however, the primary documentation which was done by the government was not handed over to the CBI, alleged the activist.

“The crime scene was not reconstructed. We were also quite shocked to see that the Manipur government, which constituted a commission of enquiry right after the incident, did not give the docket of documents to the CBI which was supposed to be in their custody. So, the investigation agency didn’t have access to it,” said Loitongbam.

“The investigation was not done in a transparent manner, and we were not privy to what was happening in the investigation. But when we perused the final report which was submitted to the court, we came to know that the primary documentation that the Manipur government did about this incident was not handed over to the CBI,” he added.

Loitongbam further stated that the High Court compensated the victim families based on the findings of the C Upendra Judicial Commission of Inquiry.

Both the court and the government have recognised the case, but the CBI report says that there is not enough evidence, even though the incident happened in broad daylight in front of over a hundred witnesses. “This is extremely unfortunate,” he added.

It may be noted that on June 18, 2001, a mass agitation was carried out across the streets of Imphal in protest against the amended ceasefire agreement without territorial limits signed between the Government of India and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM). The protest led to arson at many places, including government buildings and residences of the then chief minister and MLAs.

To control the uprising, security forces resorted to firing, which led to the death of the unarmed protestors.

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