The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Tuesday, July 25, 2023 issued a public statement “directing” the Manipur government to “ensure that no further violence which results in violation of human rights takes place”. The commission also directed the State government to continue rehabilitative measures and provide compensation without any “discrimination or arbitrariness”.
In the statement, the human rights body said it had taken cognisance of multiple cases related to the ongoing ethnic conflict in Manipur between the dominant Meitei people and the Scheduled Tribe Kuki-Zo people. Accordingly, the NHRC has also issued notices and sought reports from the Manipur government in these cases but in most of them, the reports are still awaited. The commission has now directed the State to submit these reports within two weeks.
“Therefore, it becomes imperative to know what actions have been taken by the authority concerned in the series of incidents that kept on happening for a considerable period and the disturbances are continuing for a pretty long time,” the NHRC’s statement said.
The rights body said it would like to know what measures the State government had taken to address issues faced by victims of the violence “without arriving at any final decision at this stage” regarding the human rights violation cases.
Information now sought include details of compensation given to victims and their kin; the number of such people/families; details of people rehabilitated, family members of victims given jobs; and steps taken by the authorities to promote harmony.
Bonds of brotherhood
“The commission also expects that enough measures should be taken to prevent the communities to resort to violence and to maintain peace, harmony and togetherness so as to strengthen the bonds of brotherhood, one of the important Fundamental Duties, so enshrined in Article 51-A of the Constitution of India,” it said, adding that it was saying this “without making any observation with regard to the steps taken by the authorities”.
This is the second statement the NHRC has issued on the violence in Manipur since it began on May 3. The first one had come on July 20 regarding the May 4 incident of three Kuki-Zo women being stripped and paraded by a mob while being sexually assaulted, a video of which had gone viral on social media just a day before.
In addition to the above case, the NHRC has taken cognisance of a complaint filed on May 5 by a Kuki-Zo resident in Aizawl, Mizoram, which was about the attacks against Kuki-Zo people in Imphal. Complaints from human rights civil society organisations, lawyers’ forum and one other by the Zomi Students’ Federation have been clubbed with this case, in which notices have been issued to the State government more than once.
Apart from this, the commission has taken cognisance of an alleged custodial death of a 21-year-old college student from Churachandpur district, who was in police custody in Imphal when he was beaten to death by a mob as the police fled. In this case too, notices have been issued to the State government.