IV. Human Rights Violations by Government Forces in Manipur

The protests after Manorama’s killing should have served as a warning to the government that continued abuses by the security forces would be met with public anger and make it harder to reach a political settlement in Manipur. Although civilian authorities promised that human rights violations would not be tolerated, the police, the army, and paramilitaries have continued to commit abuses with impunity, employing extrajudicial executions, torture, and other unlawful methods in their campaign to defeat militant groups.

While security forces operate under difficult circumstances, it is crucial that the state ensure that the fundamental rights of citizens are protected at all times. For this, it is important to implement legal checks and balances against violations by the security forces. This includes international human rights standards applicable to security forces carrying out law enforcement and investigative operations, such as the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials and the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials.112 These standards also apply to military forces, as well as to the police, when they are operating in a law enforcement context.113

Indian national security law goes far beyond permitting soldiers to use lethal force in genuine combat situations. Instead of complying with international norms, India provides extraordinary powers to military personnel involved in law enforcement operations. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act empowers officers in the armed forces, including non-commissioned officers, to arrest and conduct searches without a warrant, and even to shoot to kill if the officer is “of the opinion that it is necessary to do so for the maintenance of public order” and only give “such due warning as he may consider necessary.”114  The National Security Act, 1989 allows authorities broad powers to detain individuals to prevent them “from acting in any manner prejudicial to the defence of India, the relations of India with foreign persons, or the security of India.”115

India provides immunity to its armed forces by forbidding any criminal prosecution without permission from the federal government. This provision is used to prevent court proceedings when an individual soldier is accused of murder and other offenses.116 While by its terms the AFSPA only covers the Army and Air Force, the Assam Rifles, which was created by a separate act of parliament but placed under the operational control of the Army, also enjoys full protection under the act.

Similarly, section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides immunity from prosecution to all public officials unless the government approves the prosecution.117 For instance, if police officers are to be prosecuted for human rights violations, prior approval is required from the relevant state government; for paramilitary forces, the central Home Ministry must approve prosecution. Thus prosecutions are rare. While the government claims that many cases are dealt with through disciplinary proceedings, it is rare for punishments meted out by internal courts of inquiry to be made public, making it impossible to know whether such disciplinary action actually occurs. 118

It is in this legal context that the following human rights violations have occurred.

A. Extrajudicial Killings

Indian security forces have been responsible for a number of custodial killings that they later claimed occurred during an “armed encounter.” The incidence of such killings dropped after Manorama’s death and the protests that followed. However, since 2006 there has once again been an increase in such killings. Human Rights Watch investigated several cases where relatives alleged that a person was taken into custody in front of eyewitnesses, but was later declared to have been killed in an armed encounter. Human Rights Alert, an Imphal-based NGO, has documented 45 cases since 2006 where relatives have alleged that civilians were deliberately killed by security forces.119 Of grave concern is that the number of such cases has shot up from 17 in 2006 to 23 in the first eight months of 2008.120

“Encounter” killings often occur when security forces suspect that a person is a militant but do not have enough evidence to ensure a conviction. Maibam Ratankumar Singh, a college lecturer in history, survived such an attempt and recounts a chilling tale. Singh was detained by army personnel a little after midnight on July 30, 2007. The soldiers first searched his house and then asked him to change out of his nightclothes and accompany them to their waiting vehicles. In the car, he was questioned about his association with the armed groups, which he denied. Singh, however, believes that the army had planned to kill him because they were already convinced that he had links to the militants. He told Human Rights Watch:

After I was picked up, I was first taken to a place in the hills. I was blindfolded, but I could hear a stream nearby. I was asked again about my links to the UGs. Then one Manipuri-speaking man asked me to run. I did not. He then asked me to bend down and sit on the ground. I said I would not. I could hear them talking about killing me. Then they must have changed their mind.121

Mohammad Ayub Khan, a mason, was not so fortunate. He left home on August 26, 2007 to collect dues for a church that he was constructing and then to pay his workers. Four others, Makanmi Ashim, Horni Ashim, Shimriha, and Raiping, accompanied him. They rented a vehicle that was being driven by a man named Peter. When Ayub Khan failed to return the next morning, his brother Yahiya Khan went to seek information from the van driver. According to Yahiya Khan, Peter said that Ayub Khan had been arrested by members of the 19th Assam Rifles. He told Human Rights Watch:

Peter told me that the 19th Assam Rifles were conducting search operations on the highway. All the cars had been stopped. When they searched the van, they found that Ayub Khan was carrying cash, which he was carrying to pay the workers. The soldiers had allowed the other cars to go through, but they demanded that Peter drive the van to the Assam Rifles camp at Litan. Peter and an attendant driver were asked to drive away as soon as they reached the camp. But the others were told to stay back.122

Yahiya Khan and other relatives immediately went to the Assam Rifles camp at Litan. But the sentry at the gate refused to let them enter. They then filed a missing person complaint at the Litan police station, saying that Ayub Khan was last seen in the custody of the 19th Assam Rifles. At the Litan market, Yahiya Khan bumped into Makanmi Ashim, one of those detained with Ayub Khan. Said Yahiya Khan:

Makanmi told us that at the camp my brother was separated from the others. They had all been released, but no one had any information about my brother. I located the other workers. They all said that they had no information about my brother.123

Several days later, on August 30, 2007, the Litan police contacted the family. They said that the Assam Rifles had informed the police station that a person had been killed in an armed encounter. They suggested that the family check to see if the unidentified person was their brother. Ayub Khan’s father, Mohammad Karimuddin, says he began to fear the worst:

The army had told the police that there was an encounter and a body was lying on the road. We immediately rushed towards Namthirok, where the encounter had been reported. In my heart I had begun to fear that they had killed my son. As we were driving there, we saw a police pickup truck approaching from the opposite side. We stopped the truck. My son’s body was inside. It was taken to the morgue.124

On the same day, the Assam Rifles issued a statement claiming that a suspected militant had been killed in an armed exchange and weapons had been recovered from him.

Ayub Khan’s brother went to the police to lodge a complaint of extrajudicial execution against the Assam Rifles. But the police predictably refused to register the case against the army. The family then wrote to the National Human Rights Commission, which to date has only asked the district magistrate for further information.125 According to the government autopsy report, the police reported that the deceased had been killed in “a firearm encounter between 19AR [19th Assam Rifles] party and terrorist party… on 30-8-07 at about 5.15 a.m.”126

Human Rights Watch has documented several cases in which government officials or members of the armed forces later admitted to relatives that a person had been killed by “mistake.” For instance, 15-year-old Razak Khan was preparing with his family to break the Ramadan fast on September 13, 2007 when security forces arrived. Mohammad Abdul Hakim remembers that he was plucking a duck when his son came running up to say that soldiers had gathered around the village of Lilong Leihakhong: “I told him, ‘Sit down beside me and don’t worry. They must be looking for something and will go away when they are done.’”127

According to Hakim, a joint team of police and members of the 32nd Assam Rifles came up to the house and asked for a man called Khajing, an alleged militant. Hakim said he did not know a person by that name. The security forces surrounded the house, and Razak Khan was asked to accompany the soldiers to the back, to a neighboring house. There, according to Mohammad Abdul Hakim, his son was killed:

We were beaten and told to collect in the courtyard. Soldiers went inside to search the house. Suddenly, I heard my son’s voice shouting, ‘I am not Khajing!’ One of the neighbors later told me that he saw the soldiers push my son to the ground. He was crying. They shot him as he lay on the ground. We only heard the gunshots and then my son stopped shouting.128

Hakim said that when he tried to run to his son, he was stopped by the security forces. After a few hours, the soldiers left, taking Razak Khan’s body with them. The next morning the family read in the newspapers that a militant named Khajing had been gunned down in an encounter.

Abdul Hakim tried to file a police complaint after his son was killed, but was refused. He was told there was already a case registered with the police by the army reporting the killing of a militant in an armed encounter. However, after relatives and villagers appealed to the local legislator and to district authorities, a senior army official came to the village and admitted that the killing was a case of mistaken identity. No formal letter was issued.

In similar circumstances, 18-year-old Longjam Surjit was shot and killed by members of the 22nd Maratha Light Infantry battalion of the Indian army on August 31, 2006. At approximately 8:30 p.m. he went outside to stable his horse for the night. Surjit’s father, Longjam Mera, said that district authorities later admitted that his son had been killed by mistake. Longjam Mera told Human Rights Watch:

I was told that it was dark [when the incident occurred]. The army was patrolling the area. They thought my son was a UG. They shot at him. He was injured and died on the way to the hospital. The army tried to hand over the body to the police and to register that they had killed a militant. But the police recognized my son and refused to take the body. They said he was not a militant. So the army dumped his body in the morgue.129

Initially, the army issued a statement claiming that Surjit had been killed in an armed exchange and that a pistol had been recovered from him.130 The villagers formed a Joint Action Committee to protest against Surjit’s killing. On September 2, 2006, the state’s chief minister, O. Ibobi Singh, ordered a magisterial enquiry. According to Longjam Mera, some army officers later apologized for the killing of his son:

I testified before the magistrate. So did some other villagers. After we appeared before the magistrate, some soldiers came to our house and invited me and my brother to the army camp. There they gave us wine and bread. The officers said, ‘Sorry, we made a mistake.’ They said that they would give a job to a member of the family as compensation. Next day, my older brother went back the camp so that my nephew would get a job. But they asked him to come back later. We went many times, but nothing happened. Later we heard that the major who made that promise was transferred. We accepted the army’s apology because they said they made a mistake. But they should have kept their promise and given us compensation.131


In the cases of Razak Khan and Longjam Surjit, police records continue to identify the victims as militants killed in armed encounters. As in other accounts of fake encounters, the army filed false police reports listing weapons that were recovered. No one has been held accountable for the killings or false reports.

Despite the widespread powers provided under the AFSPA, soldiers violate even the requirements provided under this law. There was no evidence that Ayub Khan or Razak Khan were “acting in contravention of the law,” or carrying weapons. In both cases, there were eyewitnesses who saw the soldiers take an unarmed person into custody, after which the person was found dead in an alleged armed exchange.

Privately, army officers admit to Human Rights Watch that people are killed by mistake, and describe them as “errors in judgment.” Yet they don’t question the basic premise on which they use lethal force against individuals in custody instead of arresting people and turning them over to the justice system for prosecution. Clearly, the responsible security forces officials believe they are entitled to act outside the law and execute individuals they believe to be militants. The regularity with which such cases occur can in part be attributed to the AFSPA, which allows the armed forces to shoot to kill, and a deeply engrained culture of impunity, through which no one in the security services expects to be held accountable.

The police, too, have been responsible for extrajudicial executions. Leitanthem Premananda’s relatives believe that he was killed because police commandos wanted to rob him. Premananda had left his home on the afternoon of January 30, 2006, to make some purchases for his sister’s wedding. He was carrying a large amount of money because he had to stop at the timber merchant and place an order for furniture. He was accompanied by his friend, Keisham Boy. They were driving a two-wheeled motor scooter. According to his uncle, Leitanthem was picked up by the Manipur police:

Keisham Boy told us that the two of them had stopped on the roadside because they wanted to go to the toilet. They walked a little apart for privacy. Boy saw some police commandos drive up. They stopped and searched Boy. He was then told to go away. The commandos then drove further up towards Premananda. Boy drove the scooter a little away and then waited for his friend. Later, when he heard the cars drive away, he went to search for Premananda. But no one was there. Some children told him that the police had taken someone away. He rushed back to inform us.132

The family waited anxiously for Premananda to arrive. That evening, a local news channel reported that an unidentified militant had been killed by the police in an armed encounter. Since Manipuris are well aware that missing persons can turn up as dead militants, family members immediately rushed to the morgue. They identified the body as that of Premananda.

The police did not take action against those responsible for his death. Instead, they attacked protest meetings and later arrested two of the organizers. Chief Minister O. Ibobi Singh, replying to a motion in the Manipur assembly by an opposition legislator asking about the Premananda killing, said that Leitanthem Premananda “had died in an encounter and that explosives, a hand written extortion letter, and a mobile phone were recovered from him.”133

Angom Brajamani was also picked up by the police and then killed. On November 18, 2007, he was standing on the road near his house with some friends. His older brother, Angom Ingobi, saw a car drive past slowly and then make a U-turn and stop near the group. One man came out and beckoned Brajamani. Ingobi was too far away to hear what was said, but he saw his brother pushed into the car. Angom Ibochou, Brajamani’s father, said his older son immediately ran to the house:

He was very worried because he had not recognized the people in the car. Brajamani used to work in Bombay and had only returned one year ago to start a business at home. He did not know many local people, so it was strange that he was taken by people in the car. We contacted his friends, but no one knew anything. He had his mobile phone with him. We tried to reach him all night, but the phone was switched off. In the morning someone told us that there was a report in the paper about an encounter nearby. The police said they had killed a militant. We feared that perhaps my son had been killed. It is not uncommon for such things to happen in Manipur. We confirmed that it was my son who was killed.134

The police said that Brajamani was a member of the militant group PREPAK who had been killed in an armed encounter and a pistol had been recovered from him.135

While the army and paramilitary claim to hold internal courts of inquiry to investigate allegations of human rights violations, there is no such oversight when the police are alleged to have committed a serious crime. Despite protests after Angom Brajamani’s killing, Chief Minister O. Ibobi Singh in February 2008 told the Manipur assembly that the police had shot dead a Burmese-trained militant in retaliatory firing.136

B. Torture and Other Mistreatment

Torture remains endemic in Indian police stations, where suspects are routinely beaten or subjected to the “third degree” to extract information or confessions. In 2006 the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) stated that “violations in police custody are reported during investigations resulting in death and physical torture.”137 The NHRC issued detailed instructions and guidelines to prevent torture and deaths in custody.138 Saying that custodial torture was preventable, the NHRC suggested that “full use of scientific techniques and forensic science should be made to obviate resorting to physical torture during interrogations. Training in interrogating skills is sine quo non of all investigations by the police.”139 It also recommended penalties for those responsible for human rights violations and said that police work should be split between investigations and law and order implementation.

Interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch showed that torture of detainees, in particular severe beatings during interrogations of suspected militants and their supporters, remains common. Other methods of torture include electric shocks, cigarette burns, and simulated drowning (“water boarding”).

In Manipur, both the police and armed forces, including commandos deployed for counter-insurgency operations, have been responsible for severe torture. Since 2006, Human Rights Alert has documented as many as 48 cases of torture in custody.140

One brutal example is the case of Maibam Naobi Chanu, who was tortured by members of the Manipur police in an act of reprisal against a militant group. On February 20, 2006, four police officers and a member of the separatist People’s Liberation Front were killed during an armed encounter. The body of the dead militant, Khundrakpam Romen, also known as Bikash, was handed over to his family. On February 21, 2006, even as his funeral rites were being performed, a large number of police officers raided his house. Bikash’s brothers and sisters were beaten up.141

Maibam Naobi was known to be Bikash’s girlfriend. When the police found her at the funeral, she was beaten and then dragged out of the house.142 The police took her away without issuing an arrest memo. The villagers immediately went to the police station to secure her release and a petition was filed with the Manipur Human Rights Commission. She was eventually produced before a magistrate two days after she was arrested and accused of associating with a militant group as the “girlfriend of Bikash.”143

Manipuris then staged strikes and protests demanding her release and punishment of police officials responsible for the attacks on Bikash’s family. On March 2, 2006, Maibam Naobi was released by a magistrate, citing lack of evidence to substantiate the charges. After her release, Maibom Naobi alleged at a press conference that she had been beaten and sexually assaulted in custody.144 She said that she was barely conscious because of the beatings that she had suffered but could remember being “disrobed” and “groped.”145

Manipuris were particularly shocked by the attack on Maibam Naobi because the perpetrators were Manipuri, members of the local police force, and not members of the army, who are viewed as outsiders.146

In an encouraging development, on March 4, 2006 the Manipur government suspended five police commandos and transferred the superintendent of police for the alleged torture of Maibam Naobi.147 A judicial inquiry by S.P. Rajkhowa, a retired High Court judge, was ordered. Although his report was submitted to the state government in August 2006, it has yet to be made public.148 Based on police investigations, a criminal case was also prepared, but charges cannot be filed until the government authorizes the prosecution under section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Maibam Naobi’s lawyer, Kh. Mani, said his client was determined to gain justice:

I have filed a writ petition in the High Court asking for an order to the government to provide sanction to prosecute. My client has withdrawn another petition filed on her behalf seeking compensation because it is not money she wants. She wants the guilty punished. The state government has not proceeded properly in this matter.149

For decades, human rights activists have called upon the government to repeal the AFSPA which has caused Manipuris to suffer abuse at the hands of the army and paramilitary. They have called for the recruitment and training of a more professional Manipuri police force that would not rely on torture to extract information and be more sympathetic to the plight of civilians caught in the middle of an armed conflict. That hope appears to have been misplaced. The Manipuri police have demonstrated no greater willingness than the army and paramilitary to abide by domestic and international law in their treatment of persons in custody.

The case of Abujam Shidam, a college teacher and prominent member of the opposition Manipur People’s Party, exemplifies custodial abuse by the police. On December 16, 2007, seven people were killed near Shidam’s home in a bomb blast, which the separatist People’s Liberation Army admitted planting. Shidam took a number of the injured to the hospital. A few days after the blast, he left on a pre-scheduled college excursion to Calcutta. While he was away, the police arrived and searched his house. They also detained his brother-in-law for a day. When Shidham returned from Calcutta and heard about the police inquiries, he went to the police station. On January 7, 2008 the police arrested him on charges that he was responsible for the December 16 bomb blast. Not only does Sidham assert that he was falsely charged, he says he was tortured in custody. He told Human Rights Watch:

After my arrest I was remanded to police custody. On January 8, some police commandos came to my cell. They took me out and brought me to a toilet. There I was blindfolded. They started beating and kicking me, saying that I must admit I was a member of the PLA. They filled buckets of water and poured it on my face. They pressed on my joints with their boots. I kept shouting that I was not an UG, but they would not stop. I don’t know who these people were, though one of them said they were members of the Joint Interrogation Cell.150

Shidham was granted bail on January 11, 2008. He immediately sought medical assistance for the torture that he suffered in custody. His right elbow has been disfigured and he suffers a constant pain in his chest. He has filed a police report complaining about the torture. However, as of July 2008, he said that no action had been taken. Instead, police officials asked him to withdraw his complaint. According to Shidham:

They said, ‘You have a bright future. You will become an MLA [Member of Legislative Assembly]. Maybe a minister even. Why do you want to complain against us?’151

Sidham says he has little expectation that the police commandos who tortured him will be punished.

The army and the paramilitaries also continue to torture suspects in interrogation centers. Detainees are usually first interrogated by the detaining security force, which violates the guidelines laid down by the AFSPA, which requires that individuals picked up by the armed forces be immediately handed over to police custody. The armed forces have exploited a loophole created by an Indian Supreme Court order in August 2001 allowing the armed forces to interrogate detainees to gather “operational intelligence” but not “substantive intelligence.”152

After Elangbam Sanayaima was detained by members of the 21st Assam Rifles on November 29, 2007, he was accused of being a member of the separatist United National Liberation Front (UNLF), forced into an army vehicle and taken to the Kakching camp. According to Sanayaima:

At the camp, I was blindfolded and my hands were tied behind my back. Then they started interrogating me. They insisted over and over again that I was Sanayaima of UNLF. They asked me about my training and my colleagues. When I said that I was innocent, they beat me. Then they pushed my head back until I was almost upside down. They poured water into my nose and mouth until I could not breathe.153

After several hours of torture and interrogation, Sanayaima said that a man, speaking in Manipuri, told him that he was going to be taken to the police where he must admit to being a member of the UNLF. At the police station, however, Sanayaima again said that he was innocent. He also said that he had been tortured. The police took him to a doctor for a medical check-up and then placed him in custody. The next morning he was brought before a magistrate. The magistrate remanded him to police custody. A week later, he was released on bail. Sanayaima has trouble breathing because of his mistreatment and continues to require medical attention.

Torture in Manipur often occurs due to false information gathered by government forces. Ratankumar Singh, whose case is cited above, was picked up a little after midnight on July 30, 2007 and taken to an army camp in Khwairapan. He was blindfolded and handcuffed. He told Human Rights Watch:

My legs were tied together with a rope and my hands at the back. They interrogated me. I replied that I am innocent. That I have never been with any underground groups. They put a cloth on my face and poured water on my face. They also gave me electric shocks. The torture must have lasted at least two hours. I can’t even remember how many buckets of water they poured over me.154

The next morning, Ratankumar Singh was untied and an officer came to see him. The officer offered tea, which he refused. Ratankumar Singh was handcuffed and blindfolded again, but after a few hours was once again brought before the same officer. The blindfold and handcuffs were removed and the officer apologized to him. Said Ratankumar Singh: “He requested me to excuse him as he had the wrong information. He said he would release me and let me talk to my wife on the phone. Later my relatives came to the camp and we were asked to sign a paper which said that nothing incriminatory was found from me. Then I was released.”155 Apparently, the army thought he was someone else.

Soraisham Gopeshor Singh, a teacher in Imphal, woke up when there was heavy knocking on his front door around midnight on August 17, 2007. When his wife answered the door, several uniformed members of the 22nd Maratha Light Infantry battalion of the Indian army entered the house. They said that Gopeshor Singh was a militant named M.C. Luwang of the UNLF and that he was responsible for extortion on behalf of the underground group. The soldiers searched the house, looking for    Rs50,000 [US$1,200] that they said had recently been collected by the UNLF. According to Gopeshor Singh, when no money was found in the house he was asked to come in the morning to the army camp. At the camp, he denied the allegations against him.

On September 1, 2007 at around 11 p.m., security forces once again arrived at his house. The soldiers identified themselves as members of the 57th Mountain Division. Gopeshor Singh explained that he had already been questioned earlier, but the soldiers dragged him out of the house. He was not allowed to change out of his night clothes. Once inside the vehicle, he was blindfolded and handcuffed. According to Gopeshor Singh:

Half an hour later, we arrived at a room and I was made to sit at a wooden table. I was questioned in Manipuri and asked which underground group I worked for and about the money that I had collected. They also asked me where I kept the guns. I said I knew nothing. First they slapped me. Then they made me lie down on the ground on my back. They covered my face with a cloth. Some of them held me tightly by the arms and legs while others poured water on my face. It was horrible. I could not breathe. The water was in my nose, in my mouth. I felt my stomach was full of water. It continued for almost 20 minutes.156

Gopeshor Singh was released the next morning. He has not filed a police complaint: “Under the circumstances, just that I was out alive, complaining about torture was not possible.” He still needs psychiatric assistance to recover from the torture. “At least if you are a UG, you are mentally prepared for these things,” he said. “But I am destroyed.”157

History lecturer Maibam Ratankumar Singh is also on constant medication due to psychological trauma. “I saw you walk into the house,” he told a Human Rights Watch researcher. “You are strangers. Immediately my hands started shaking and I needed medicines.”158

The army also probably made a mistake when they arrested another young man, who asked for anonymity, from his house in January 2008. He was kept in custody for six days and eventually released.

They put me in a car and blindfolded me. Then they started beating and kicking me, asking which party I belonged to. Then the car stopped and I was taken inside. My hands were tied up. Then the interrogation began again…. They beat me and asked me questions. After six days, I was taken out of the room and put in a vehicle. It was a very long drive. When we stopped, I was pulled out of the car. The men said they would kill me. They made me kneel down. I thought I was going to be shot. Then I heard the car drive away. I was not sure if anyone was there. I waited and, finally, I managed to push my blindfold away. No one was there. It was dark. I saw lights in the distance. I ran and eventually got home.159

Indian security forces routinely ignore procedural safeguards designed to prevent torture and other mistreatment of persons in custody. Sections 330 and 331 of the Indian Penal Code forbid the causing of “hurt” or “grievous hurt” to extract a confession, and prescribe prison terms and fines for officers found guilty of torture.160 The Code of Criminal Procedure also contains clauses to protect detainees from torture, such as section 54, which provides the right to a medical examination, section 164, which requires a magistrate to ensure that a confession is voluntary, and section 176, which requires a magisterial inquiry into any death in custody.161

However, the best protection from torture in custody came from the Supreme Court in D.K. Basu v. State of West Bengal. This 1996 judgment led to what is commonly known as the eleven-point “Basu guidelines” to prevent torture in custody. Among the requirements are that all police personnel involved in arrests and interrogations should display accurate and clear identification; a register should be created to record the names of those responsible for individual interrogations; and the arrestee should be subjected to a medical examination at the time of arrest to record all major or minor injuries, and then subjected to further examinations every 48 hours during detention.162

India is also a state party to several major international human rights treaties that prohibit torture and other mistreatment, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 7 of the ICCPR states that: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”163 India has signed, but not ratified, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the Convention against Torture).164

C. Enforced Disappearance and Arrest Memos

A “disappearance” occurs when a person is taken into custody by forces acting for a state who later refuse to acknowledge taking the person into custody or reveal their whereabouts. According to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (the Convention against Enforced Disappearance), which India has signed but not yet ratified, an enforced disappearance is “the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law.”165

“Disappearances” were common in the early days of the armed conflict. Sustained efforts of Manipuri civilians including local human rights groups, relatives of victims, and other civil society organizations, succeeded in getting the Manipur state government to take steps to prevent enforced disappearances. No new cases of enforced disappearances have occurred since 2000. However, under international law, enforced disappearances are a continuing offense—meaning the crime continues to be committed until the whereabouts or fate of the victim becomes known.166 The Convention against Enforced Disappearance calls on states to investigate and prosecute individuals directly responsible for “disappearances” and as a matter of command responsibility.167

Petitions seeking the whereabouts of 17 persons who “disappeared” between 1980 and 2000 are still pending in the courts, although in some cases the court, unable to proceed because of a lack of information, has dismissed the cases after ordering the state government to pay compensation to families.168 The government failed to provide a satisfactory response to these petitions and no one has been held accountable.

Manipur activists say that the problem of “disappearances” decreased after the government in the 1990s introduced a system of providing “arrest memos.” An arrest memo is a one-page document created by the Home Department of the government of Manipur in 1997.169 It lists the name of the arrestee, address, place, date and time of arrest, the reason for arrest, and the name of the person or relative who has been informed of the arrest. It is signed by the arresting officers and two witnesses. Once an arrest memo is provided, security forces can no longer deny that a person has been taken into custody. Relatives are also able to identify the unit or battalion responsible for the arrest and thus ensure that the detainee has access to legal counsel.

However, in some recent cases documented by Human Rights Watch, arresting officials have refused to provide an arrest memo. For instance, when Elangbam Sanayaima was arrested on November 29, 2007 by members of the 21st Assam Rifles, his mother and other village women surrounded the official vehicle, demanding an arrest memo. However, the soldiers refused to provide it and instead pushed Elangbam Sanayaima into the car and drove away.170 Elangbam Sanayaima is out on bail, awaiting trial.

Mohammad Manawar was arrested from his home on June 27, 2007 by soldiers of the 22nd Maratha Light Infantry. When his teenage nieces, who were sitting on the verandah of the hut next door, saw their uncle being taken into custody, they stopped the soldiers, demanded an arrest memo, and asked why he was being arrested. One niece told Human Rights Watch that the army officers responded with brutality:

The soldiers were very angry. They were going to take our uncle away. When I asked for an arrest memo, they started beating us. One of them said, ‘How can a young girl like you even know about an arrest memo?’ Everyone knows that the army must give an arrest memo. But when we said this, they were furious. They beat me so hard, I fainted. I was taken to the hospital. In the hospital I found that my leg had been broken.171

When Human Rights Watch met the family in February 2008, the niece had still not recovered and could not walk without assistance. Doctors have recommended further surgery, which the family cannot afford. Mohammad Manawar remains in custody, detained without charge under the National Security Act.

The army denied that they used excessive force during Mohammad Manawar’s arrest. An army spokesman said that women in the village refused to accept an arrest memo, attempted to obstruct the military while performing their duty, and even assaulted the troops.172

The reluctance to provide arrest memos could be the result of the Manorama case, where soldiers from the Assam Rifles signed an arrest memo and were therefore identified as prime suspects in her later killing.

112 U.N. Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, U.N. Doc. A/CONF.144/28/Rev.1 (1990); U.N. Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, G.A. res. 34/169, annex, 34 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 46) at 186, U.N. Doc. A/34/46 (1979), adopted by the U.N. General Assembly on December 17, 1979.

113 In accordance with the commentary to article 1 of the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, in countries where police powers are exercised by military authorities, whether uniformed or not, or by state security forces, the definition of law enforcement officials shall be regarded as including officers of such services.

114 The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, sec. 4.

115 The National Security Act, enacted December 27, 1980, (accessed April 21, 2008).

116 The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, sec. 6.

117 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, (accessed April 21, 2008).

118 Section 197(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides that: “No Court shall take cognizance of any offence alleged to have been committed by any member of the Armed Forces of the Union whole acting or purporting to act in the discharge of his official duty, except with the previous sanction of the Central Government.”

119 Human Rights Watch interview with Babloo Loitongbam, Executive Director, Human Rights Alert, July 11, 2008. Human Rights Alert is nongovernmental, voluntary network of human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, academicians, health workers and community workers in Manipur that visits victim families to document cases where there are allegations of human rights abuse.

120 Ibid.

121 Human Rights Watch interview with Maibam Ratankumar Singh, Singjamei, February 25, 2008.

122 Human Rights Watch interview with Yahiya Khan, Heingang, Imphal East District, February 22, 2008.

123 Ibid.

124 Human Rights Watch interview with Mohammad Karimuddin, Singjamei, Imphal East District, February 22, 2008.

125 National Human Rights Commission, Case Number 22/14/13/07-08-AF/UC.

126 “Postmortem Report,” Ref No. 333/OC, provided to the family of Ayub Khan.

127 Human Rights Watch interview with Mohammad Abdul Hakim, father of victim, Thoubal district, Manipur, February 24, 2008.

128 Ibid.

129 Human Rights Watch interview with Longjam Mera, Samurou Makha Leikai, Imphal West District, February 24, 2008.

130 “Victim Party Rejects Probe Deal,” The Sangai Express, September 2, 2006, (accessed April 18, 2008).

131 Ibid.

132 Human Rights Watch interview with Leitantham Dilip, Porompat, Imphal East District, February 22, 2008.

133 Manipur Legislative Assembly, Bulletin for 13 March 2006, (accessed April 18, 2008).

134 Human Rights Watch interview with Angom Ibochou, Lamshang, February 23, 2008.

135 “Twin Blockades to Protest Killings,” The Telegraph, November 27, 2007, (accessed April 18, 2008).

136 “CM Assures Increment In SBI Loan,” The Sangai Express, February 28, 2008, (accessed April 18, 2008).

137 National Human Rights Commission, “NHRC’s Recommendations on Custodial Justice,” (accessed June 24, 2008).

138 National Human Rights Commission, “Instructions/Guidelines Issued by the Commission,” (accessed June 24, 2008).

139 Ibid.

140 Human Rights Watch interview with Babloo Loitongbam, Executive Director, Human Rights Alert, July 11, 2008.

141 Asian Human Rights Commission, “INDIA: Murder, assault, torture, failure of rule of law and intimidation,” UA-073-2006, February 25, 2006, (accessed April 10, 2008).

142 “Strike Called Against Torture of Woman,” The Hindu, March 4, 2006, (accessed April 16, 2008).

143 Asian Human Rights Commission, “India: Murder, assault, torture, failure of rule of law and intimidation.”

144 “Naobi freed, recounts sordid tale,” The Sangai Express, March 2, 2006, (accessed April 10, 2008).

145 Ibid.

146 Oinam Anand, “Manipur Police, You Too!’ The Sangai Express, March 6, 2006, (accessed April 10, 2008).

147“Five Personnel Suspended in Naobi’s Case,” The Sangai Express, March 4, 2006, (accessed April 10, 2008).

148 Human Rights Watch interview with Kh. Mani, Maibom Naobi’s lawyer, Imphal, February 26, 2008.

149  Human Rights Watch interview with Kh. Mani, Maibom Naobi’s lawyer, Imphal, February 26, 2008.

150 Human Rights Watch interview with Abujam Shidham, Imphal, February 22, 2008.

151 Ibid.

152 Supreme Court order in Criminal Original Jurisdiction, Criminial Miscellaneous Petition no. 4198 of 1999 in Writ Petition (Cril) No. 550 of 1982, Naga People's Movement for Human Rights vs Union of India, August 17, 2001.

153 Human Rights Watch interview with Elangbam Sanauaima, Thoubal District, February 25, 2008.

154 Human Rights Watch interview with Maibam Ratankumar Singh, February 25, 2008.

155 Ibid.

156 Human Rights Watch interview with Soraisham Gopeshor Singh, Tulihal, Imphal West District, February 22, 2008.

157 Ibid.

158 Human Rights Watch interview with Maibam Ratankumar Singh, February 25, 2008.

159 Human Rights Watch interview, all details withheld.

160 Indian Penal Code, 1860, Sections 330 and 331, (accessed September 6, 2008).

161 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, (accessed September 6, 2008)

162 Guidelines Laid by the Supreme Court in D.K. Basu vs State of Bengal, (accessed April 19, 2008).

163 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) (1976), (accessed April 12, 2008).

164 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, G.A. res. 39/46, annex, 39 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 51) at 197, U.N. Doc. A/39/51 (1984), entered into force June 26, 1987, India signed the convention in 1997 but is yet to ratify it.

165 International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, G.A. res. 61/177, U.N. Doc. A/RES/61/177 (2006), adopted Dec. 20, 2006, available at India signed the treaty on February 6, 2007, the day it was opened for signature.  

166 Ibid., art. 8(1)(b).

167 Ibid., art. 6.

168 See Appendix I.

169 Arrest Memo, Annexure to Home Department, Government of Manipur, Office Memorandum No. 2/8 (86)/96-H. June 5, 1997.

170 Human Rights Watch interview with Elangbam Sanauaima, February 25, 2008.

171 Human Rights Watch interview (name withheld), Mayang Imphal, Imphal West District, February 24, 2008.

172 “Ibobi Faces Ire Over Assault On Three Girls,” The Telegraph, July 3, 2007, (accessed April 10, 2008).