It was a moment of dread and yet excitement that I felt within. In front of me sat Thounaojam Herojit, head constable of Manipur police, he had revealed that he had killed a person in cold blood and wanted me to report it. That was sometime back in 2016 January. Ahead lay the daunting task of inking down the confession to one of the most controversial fake-encounters perpetrated in the state so far, the BT flyover fake encounter in which Ch Sanjit was killed in cold blood. Herojit told me that he had shot down an unarmed Sanjit on the order of his superior officer.
This moment can be perceived as every reporter’s dream come true, news-wise and yet at the same time take on the government hounds which had 2528 fake encounters under its belt. I knew then that I was putting my life at risk and of others including Herojit if the article was printed. Even more if it is known to other concerned authorities that the killer cop had spilled the beans before it was printed in black and white. I did the article… with the hope that justice would be done to the souls of the victims of fake-encounters. What further emboldened me is that here was another person in front of me, risking it all.
After the news was printed on January 26, 2016, it seemed that morning that there was a lull in the air. What would be the outcome? My publisher had even suggested that I leave the Country for some time as reprisal would most likely come in one way or another which may cost me dearly. I began to weigh the odds and came to a conclusion that If I die, it won’t be at any other place where my body could not be found, I choose to ‘exit the building’ with my last moments spent with my family and if any harm is to come, my final glance would be of my family.
Well! Much water has passed under the Ithai barrage and still the status-quo remains. The judiciary of the state prefers not to accept the confession of Herojit. Despite the proverbial Pandora’s Box being opened and a killer having confessed to the deed, the session’s court is explicitly of the view that the on-going trail must continue in its lethargic manner. The BT flyover fake encounter occurred in July 23, 2009 and eleven cops were indicted in the investigation by the CBI. The charge-sheet was submitted to the court in that year and still the case moves at a snail’s pace. The verdict of the court regarding Herojit’s confession is that he cannot submit his confession as the trail is on-going and the court is not an appellate one.
Fine! The mother of the fake encounter victim submitted a petition to the High Court of Manipur in 2016, praying that action may be directed as per statement made by Herojit and that the superior officer and other responsible authorities be punished. The High Court in their basic observation of jurisprudence stated that the court cannot accept the petition as the case was being tried in the lower court. At that moment, some things became quite clear! The irony here is that the sessions court is trying to find out who is the killer of Ch Sanjit and here is the killer who has come out and confessed to his deed.
Herojit’s confession, one’s obligation to bring out the news and what do the court’s do ? One thing they are up to is that nearly 400 witness have to be interviewed and the score is 150 till date and in a span of 8 years. At this rate, it will take at least a quarter of a century for all witness to be scrutinized by the court. No wonder that the four Supreme Court justices are coming out openly on charges of nepotism against the Chief Justice of India, judiciary here borders on impotency and reeks of by-far worse.
It felt that the government is trying to bring the BT fake-encounter case to a slow death and hopefully before that happens, Herojit would die and along with him, all the dirt that the government would like to cover up. It seemed that way until Herojit approached the Supreme Court in January 8 last. The SC directive to the CBI to investigate 92 cases of fake encounters was based on certain commissions of inquiry and NHRC cases. The CBI’s homework for collecting documents and other relevant material were already done by the commissions earlier. Finally, only 11 First Information Reports have been submitted to the Supreme Court by the CBI in January and the names and cases are kept confidential, the civil organizations here cry foul at the CBI lethargic investigation. The Supreme Court was also oblivious of the Herojit affair till recent and surprisingly, his affidavit mentioning that he was an eyewitness to several fake encounters and he was the killer of Ch Sanjit was accepted by the Supreme Court. The Court also observed that Heroijit’s statement may be recorded by any magistrate in Delhi. So, one would like to wash off the matter of procuring justice from the state’s side and all hopes reside on the SC hearings in future.
The adage that justice delayed is justice denied points that justice indeed has been delayed to the victims of fake-encounters. One hopes that justice is not denied and finally there will be a res-judicata for the victims of violence.