A shot in the arm for Manipur’s intrepid women

IMPHAL,9th Sep: September 8 was the grim anniversary of the imposition of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, (AFSPA) in Manipur in 1980. Allegations of extra-judicial excesses and killings by security forces have persisted since then.

The Supreme Court, which is hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) petition, seeking a probe into as many as 1,528 cases of extra-judicial killings that allegedly took place in Manipur between 1979 to 2012 under the contentious Act, on July 14, 2017, constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and ordered the framing of chargesheets in a time-bound manner against Army and police officers involved in the encounters.

Renu Takhellambam, president, Extra-Judicial Execution Victim Families Association Manipur (EEVFAM), told The Hindu, “We joined hands to find out the truth about the deaths of our husbands, brothers and fathers. The Supreme Court’s direction to the CBI to file chargesheets in the deaths of most of the 1,528 persons has vindicated us.” Wives of men who died in alleged extra-judicial violence formed the EEVFAM on July 11, 2009.

Renu recounted, “On that fateful morning of April 7, 2007, my husband, Mung Hangzo, was proceeding towards Imphal in a scooter with two friends. On seeing a police team, a common sight in those days in insurgency-afflicted Manipur, which caused fear of harassment and delays, they swerved to take a detour through a village road.”

Eyewitness accounts said the police team chasing the scooter overtook them. “This was not far from where we lived. I heard the gunshots. The police later said in the FIR that my husband and his two friends hurled a hand grenade at the police party. But nobody heard a grenade blast. They didn’t find it (the grenade) also. This is just one of the cases of fake encounters now pending before the Supreme Court,” she said.

Her only child, a son, was 11 months old at the time. Today, he is a brilliant student in Class 7, and takes a keen interest in sports. “Mercifully, he does not ask much about his father now,” Renu said.

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