Resisting Extrajudicial Execution In Manipur
By Neena Ningombam
30 September, 2012
I am Neena secretary of Extrajudicial Execution Victim Families Association Manipur (EEVFAM).
On 4 November 2008 after enjoying a family lunch, my husband Nongmaithem Michael, went to a friend’s helping him to set up his father’s shradha ceremony. Around 3 p.m. he got a phone call and left the place. At 3.32 p.m. I received a call from him saying that he was apprehended and told me to inform his sister who is well connected to the Police to secure his release. I cannot believe what he had said and I call him again to confirm. But he didn’t pick up; instead somebody else picked it up. When I enquired about my husband he told me that he was in the toilet. I ask him where they were and he told me that they were near our residence.
I informed his sister and our family members. They tried to locate him in various police stations but in vain. In the 9.00 p.m. ISTV news I saw the lifeless body of my husband is showed as “militant”/”terrorist” killed in an encounter with a hand grenade by his side. I was shocked to see how they could murder my husband and frame him as a “terrorist”. I immediately inform my family members. My brother-in-law worried that my mother-in-law might see the news telecast pulled down our cable wires. My younger brother-in-law rushed to the morgue and confirmed that it was indeed Michael’s body.
The next day the local community staged a sit in protest in the heart of Imphal condemning the killing. After conducting postmortem Michael’s body is brought home and consigned to flames according the Manipuri customs.
Our family submitted memorandum to the Chief Minister of Manipur and the Director General of Police, pleading them to take action against the killing of my husband and the false charges leveled against him after he was killed. But no action was taken. I started attending public meetings testifying how my husband was extra-judicially executed. On the advice of human rights activist I petitioned the Guwahati High Court. The High Court ordered the district judge Manipur east to conduct an inquiry into the matter on 10 November 2009.
We have to do much persuasion and request for the eye witnesses to dispose before the court. After much personal request to him as well as his family members an old man who actually saw my husband whisked away by the police commandos in their Gypsy finally agreed to dispose before the court. After almost three years of an uphill struggle the District Court finally wrote its findings on 12 July 2012 and concluded that:
In the result, I have decided that the husband of the petitioner, Nongmaithem Michael Singh, was killed by the personnel of Manipur Police Commando, Imphal West on 04-11-2008 at around 4.45 p.m. at Yenkaobung, Kameng and not from the exchange of firing or encounter between the husband of the petitioner and personnel of Manipur Police Commandos, Imphal West.
The report is forwarded to the registrar of the Gauhati High Court, Imphal Bench and we are awaiting the final decision of the High Court on my case.
I could at least manage to extract the truth behind my husband’s killings, but there are hundreds of young widows generated every year as their husbands are arbitrarily executed in Manipur. Many of them are in a lot worst situation than me. It was a glimmer of hope when some human rights activist started organizing these widows. On 11 July 2009, some thirty of us got together, shared our stories and cried the whole day on each other’s shoulders. On the other hand pouring out our pent up emotions and finding that we not alone was such a relief, we all felt considerably light at the end of the day. We wanted to build on this collective strength and fight for justice together. This is how Extrajudicial Execution Victim Families Association, Manipur (EEVFAM) was born!
EEVFAM is an organization of widows and mothers of those killed by police and security forces. We are discriminated as young widows and also as families of the “terrorists”. We cannot access the basic schemes for widows namely widow pension given by the Social Welfare Dept. because they had not attain the age of 40 years. We cannot access the ex-gratia given by the State Government because our husbands are killed in “encounters”. We also cannot access the children’s education support under the National Foundation For Communal Harmony given by the District Commissioner because they were meant only for children killed by “non-state actors”.
Having nowhere to go we decided to help each other. We meet every second Saturday and share our day to day problems and stories - happy ones as well as our sorrows. We contribute a little amount of money to save as our organization fund. We formed some self-help group and take loan from Just Peace Foundation in low interest. The loanee uses the money according to her own choice and convenience to improve their lives. Some are doing business in clothes, some weaving, some are running small grocery shops, yet others are farming or making detergents, etc.
EEVAM has given us the strength to be who we are and face the world in our own terms with dignity and grace. The mental and emotional support that we draw from this collective can hardly be over stated. Besides pursuing the cases of our husbands individually we are now collectively fighting for justice. With the help of human rights groups, we are now petitioning the Supreme Court of India demanding proper investigation in 1,528 cases of extrajudicial executions in Manipur. In fact the first hearing of this case is coming up this Monday, 1 October 2012, you are most welcome to witness if the apex court is going to accept or reject our petition.
EXTRAJUDICIAL EXECUTION VICITM FAMILIES ASSOCIATION, MANIPUR
Kwakeithel Ningthemkol (Paite Veng)
Imphal – 795001, Manipur, India
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