Since morning, a large number of womenfolk, JAC members, JCILPS Women Wing volunteers and Ratan’s wife came to Lamphel Court complex to witness Ratan’s Court appearance.
The former JCILPS convenor was brought at the Court complex at around 12 noon by SDPO Mayang Imphal, who is the Investigation Officer of the case.
Arguments between prosecution and defence counsels continued till late evening before the Court of JMIC Imphal West-1 Alek Muivah.
M Jamuna Devi is the prosecution’s counsel while Senior Advocate Khaidem Mani and Senior Advocate I Lalitkumar are the counsels of Kh Ratan.
The allegation against Ratan is that he is a member of UNLF who has sworn his allegiance by holding the flag of the banned outfit along with three other unknown cadres in front of UNLF secretary Nongyai.
Prosecution’s counsel said that CFSL Chandigarh has confirmed that the photograph showing Ratan taking oath is genuine and free from photoshop and the High Court of Manipur has also acknowledged the finding of the expert opinion of CFSL Chandigarh, .
Prosecution’s submission alleged that Ratan has been inciting and abetting innocent public to promote enmity among different sections of people/communities.
Lots of private and public properties were damaged including private and police vehicles due to Ratan’s incitement, the prosecution counsel submitted.
She further said that around 80 different FIRs have been registered against Ratan, who is also the former convenor of JCILPS.
Many persons including police personnel were injured during the agitations led by Ratan, she said and added that nine precious lives were lost in Churachandpur as a consequence of the movement led by Ratan.
The prosecution’s counsel further stated that the High Court of Manipur had dismissed Ratan’s petition praying to quash the FIR filed against him.
The prosecution further mentioned that Ratan was arrested earlier on October 10, 2009.
The prosecution’s counsel further submitted that as per Ratan’s bank statement, the money transferred for handing out compensation to the persons injured in pro-ILPS agitations has been misused.
Ratan had withdrawn Rs 14,54,328.09 from his bank account through ATM, the prosecution’s counsel said.
On the other hand, defence counsel Khaidem Mani told the Court that there is no valid ground for further detention of Ratan. Merely visiting Namphalong and meeting the members of banned organizations is ‘per se’ not an offence, Mani said and added that Ratan was given bail in the earlier FIR filed in 2009 and the prosecution has not charge sheeted him till date.
Another defence counsel I Lalitkumar raised question on the source of the photograph.
Stating that the prosecution has not applied any Section under IT Act 2009 Lalitkumar said that the defence counsels have not been given the copy of the photograph to get independent opinion of its authenticity.
The Court order mentioned that Ratan had told the Court in a petition that he was taken to an unknown place by some unknown youth on the pretext of discussing a matter.
He was then forced to hold an unknown flag along with three other persons, the petitioner said and said that the event was not taking oath of allegiance as alleged by the prosecution.
Defence counsels had submitted that Ratan is a responsible person and he is unlikely to abscond from the authority and he voluntarily came out in the open in support of the hunger strike and prayed for release on bail.
The Court order said that Court is of the view that although the wanted tag against Ratan was announced in June, police could arrest him only in August.
Several house raids were conducted, Ratan was not there, the order said.
He also did not surrender before any police station or Court. Hence, the Court is inclined to think that he may go into hiding from the prosecution thereby jeopardizing the investigation if he is freed on bail, the Court order said.
The order further said that Ratan seems to be a man of influence as some sitting MLAs had openly visited him in public pledging support to him. Hence, the Court has the apprehension that if he is released at the stage of investigation, he may hamper investigation and temper evidence by using this influence.
The Court also directed Central Jail, Sajiwa to provide all possible medical attention to Ratan as he had complained of chest pain and coughing.
As it was already 6 pm when the Court appearance was over, the Court directed the IO of the case to keep Ratan at Imphal police station and send him to jail as early as possible tomorrow morning.
Before Ratan was brought out of the Court room, all his supporters were asked to vacate the Court complex by the police. Ratan appealed to the public to support him in pressing the demand for implementation of ILPS. He said that he would continue to work on the issue till his death even if he is in the jail.
Ratan’s supporters shouted slogans like ‘long live Manipur’, ‘we want ILP’, ‘we condemn arrest and charges levelled against Ratan’ and ‘Ratan is our soul’ as Ratan was brought out from Lamphel Court complex.