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Manipur: Assam Rifles personnel to undergo DNA tests

G Vinayak in Guwahati | September 01, 2004 15:36 IST

The judicial probe into Th Manorama's death gathered steam in Manipur on Tuesday after blood samples were collected from 33 Assam Rifles personnel for DNA tests to ascertain if any of them had raped Manorama after her arrest on July 11.

The DNA tests will be conducted in Kolkata.

Troops of the 17 Assam Rifles arrested Manorama from her East Imphal house on July 11 and later shot her dead, claiming she tried to flee. But her family alleges she was tortured and raped before being killed.

Tests conducted at Kolkata's Central Forensic Science Laboratory revealed semen stains on a garment that Manorama was wearing when she died while in the custody of Assam Rifles personnel, lending credence to the allegation that she was sexually assaulted before being shot.

Blood samples of the security personnel were collected. Simultaneously, officer-in-charge of Irilbung police station Gunindro Singh moved the Imphal chief judicial magistrate's court for DNA tests on any Assam Rifles jawan that the police investigation team might consider a suspect.

"We moved the court because Assam Rifles authorities have not identified the personnel involved in the incident. The question is, whose DNA is to be tested? Even if the Assam Rifles authorities produce the accused, how can we verify whether they are the real accused?" a senior police official said.

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He feared the DNA tests on the 33 personnel might not reveal the truth. "None of the 33 personnel who participated in the operation (to arrest Manorama) could be the culprit. The woman may have been taken to one of their posts for interrogation and someone else may have committed the crime."

The army, under which the paramilitary force operates, has been insisting on DNA tests from the day the forensic report was made public.

On Monday and Tuesday, 17 Assam Rifles Commanding Officer Col Jagmohan Singh deposed before the C Upendra Commission appointed by the state government to probe the incident. The deposition took place inside the high-security Imphal Central Jail.

Singh appeared before the commission after the Gauhati high court directed the panel to examine Assam Rifles personnel in-camera inside the central jail.

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