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Assam Rifles men fail to appear before panel
G Vinayak in Imphal | August 12, 2004 16:21 IST
The Justice C Upendra Commission of Enquiry set by the Manipur government to probe the death of Th Manorama at the hands of the paramilitary Assam Rifles on July 11 has adjourned its sitting till August 18 in view of the refusal of the Assam Rifles personnel to appear before the Commission.
Despite sending two summons to five Assam Rifles personnel belonging to the 17 Assam Rifles -- Commanding Officer Colonel Jagmohon Singh, Naik Subedar Digambar Dutt, Havildar Suresh Kumar, Riflemen Ajit Kumar and T Lotha -- they failed to appear before the judicial commission.
Havildar Suresh Kumar had signed the arrest memo of Manorama on the night of July 10-11 when she was
Manorama's body, bearing tell-tale torture marks, was found lying in a field within hours of her being whisked way.
Her death has triggered huge protests in Manipur against the Assam Rifles and the use of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958. The Act provides sweeping powers of search, arrest and shoot-at-sight to the members of armed forces.
Peeved with the 'deliberate' non-appearance of all the witnesses of 17 Assam Rifles before the commission, the victim's lawyers have decided to abstain from joining the panel further.
Advocates Lakhikanta, Koteshwor and Ngongo among others, who appeared on behalf of the victim's family and two local bodies, categorically stated that the site from where Manorama was picked up has been examined thoroughly, but the developments later that led to her death are yet to be worked out for which examination of the AR witnesses is mandatory.
"We are ready to prove the illegal killing of Manorama," said one of the lawyers while talking to
The commission has issued fresh summons on the five 17 AR personnel through the DGP for their personal appearance on August 18 at 11 am.
On August 7, AR authorities had filed an application to the panel requesting that the AR witnesses be examined in camera inside the Kamgla Fort, which houses the Assam Rifles, as they had received threats from an underground outfit.
On the same day, the panel rejected the plea, but asked the state government to provide adequate security in and around the premises of state Guest House, where the inquiry is underway, to ensure safety and security of the personnel while giving their testimonies.
A lawyer representing the Assam Rifles then agreed that the Commandant would testify on July 9 at noon.
However, not just the Commandant, but also the lawyer of the Assam Rifles failed to turn up before the panel thereby compelling the commission to issue summons to the CO and other four personnel on July 10. But the AR personnel did not respond to the summon.
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