IMPHAL, Sep 9: The Central Bureau of Investigation has succeeded in putting the BT Road firing case of 2009 in Imphal on the course to justice with the filing of a chargesheet today against those involved in the firing incident in which a pregnant woman Rabina along with a former UG cadre named Sanjit were killed and five other civilians injured, in what was claimed at that time to be a police encounter.
The filing of the CBI enquiry report after a thorough investigation conducted in the state in connection with the incident, approved by the state government as per the demands of the various civil society organizations, has vindicted the charges of institutionalised human rights violation and killing in the name of counter insurgency operations in the state.
The CBI chargesheet today is considered by many to be a significant milestone for those fighting for human rights in the state.
The chargesheet was filed in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate in Imphal against eight Manipur police commandos and the then officer-in-charge (OC) of the City Police.
They are identified as OC Inspector Munal Singh, Inspector H Devendra Singh, Head Constable Thounaojam Herojit Singh, Rifleman Ngangom Toyaima Singh, Constable W Binoykumar Singh, Havildar Th Jagat Singh, Rifleman Md Imran Khan, Head Constable Oinam Keshor Singh and Constable Makan Kanchung Chothe. They have been booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for the gruesome BT Road firing incident.
The CBI chargesheet said, the accused persons have been chargesheeted under section 34 r/w 302, 218, 203 IPC and also under other substantive offenses.
The court of the CJM Imphal has taken cognizance of the chargesheet and issued warrant of arrest against the commando personnel and the officer concerned of the city police station.
It may be recalled that the writ petition No. 77/2009 was filed by the mother of the deceased at the Guwahati High Court Imphal bench and a judgment of the court passed an order in August 2009 to treat the complaint raised on August 7, 2009 by the deceased’s mother as FIR. Besides, the city police as per the complaint lodged by the relatives of the deceased registered a FIR case on August 26, 2009 under 302/34 IPC and Section 27 (3) Arms Act alleging that the deceased were shot dead arbitrarily by the Manipur police commandos on the same day.
Subject to pressure from civil organizations and the subsequent decision of the state government to hand over the case to the CBI for further investigation, the Guwahati High Court Imphal bench in its official order issued on December 23, 2009 transferred the investigation of the case to the CBI.
With the subsequent acceptance from the CBI to deal with the investigation of the firing incident the investigation was conducted during which the officials and the police personnel involved in the firing incident were asked to personally give their statements.
It is relevant to mention that it was due to the social organizations, media persons who covered the incident and the family members of the victims who extended their sincere cooperation during the investigation by the CBI in the state, which resulted in the final findings of the case. This was despite the fact that the Manipur police personnel during the investigation, as per the FIR lodged with the city police, had deliberately claimed that unknown persons were shot dead in the retaliatory firing by the police commandos.
The CBI, on the other hand, while filing the chargesheet clearly indicated that pursuant to the High Court order, the CBI registered a case against some Manipur police commandos on January 16 this year corresponding to the FIR of the city police station. However, during the investigation another case was also registered by the CBI, corresponding to the Imphal city police station.
Mention may be made that the nearly nine-months long investigation conducted by the CBI revealed that the Manipur police commandos were doing their routine frisking on BT Road on the day when they came across a youth who fired upon the commandos and ran towards the east and mingled with the crowd.
The brief report of the CBI also mentioned that the police fired upon the youth in retaliation and in the firing incident five persons were injured and one pregnant woman identified as Rabina was killed at the spot. The police cordoned the area and carried out search operations. The youth was apprehended by the police and taken inside a store room of Social Time Emporium/Maimu Pharmacy. It is also further mentioned that the person was not armed at that time and he was shot dead by the commandos at the spot and a pistol was allegedly recovered from him.
The brief investigation report of the CBI further revealed that there was no such pistol in possession of the deceased youth (Sanjit) and the police planted the same (arm) after it was picked up from the nearby GSS Arcade, minutes before the encounter.
It may also be recalled that the entire state of Manipur was in a tense state in the aftermath of the shooting and the matter worsened following the announcement of total emergency in the state by the working committee of the Apunba Lup which also paralysed the academic atmosphere for more than six months. The matter subsided after the state government announced the handing over of the case to the CBI for further investigation.
With the conclusion of the findings in connection with the case, the CBI further reminded the public of the state that the above findings are not the final proof of the guilt of the accused. Under the Indian law the accused are presumed to be innocent till their guilt is finally established after a fair trial.