Manipur rights groups move NCHR over detention of activists

GUWAHATI: The Civil Society Coalition for Human Rights in Manipur and the UN (CSCHR) has sought the intervention of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in connection with the recent spree of “arbitrary arrests and detention” of human rights defenders of Manipur for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

In a letter, the rights groups urged the NHRC chairperson to direct the Manipur director general of police to immediately stop “harassing” the human rights defenders in the state for exercising their legitimate right to freedom of expression,

“At this juncture when the government is trying to work closely with the civil society to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, such highhanded and irresponsible act of the state will only polarise the society thereby hindering the collective effort,” representatives of the rights groups, stated in the letter.

The groups requested the NHRC to further direct the Manipur to revoke all the FIRs that had been registered in connection with the exercising of right to freedom of expression by human rights defenders, and to uphold the rule of law and human rights in this critical hour of combating the COVID-19 pandemic,

Citing an instance, the groups informed the NHRC that the police had on April 3, 2020, summoned Laifungbam Debabrata Roy, the president of Centre for Organisation, Research and Education (CORE), a constituent member of CSCHR, to the police station in connection with a Facebook post where he made an opinion on the chief minister.

“The present Manipur chief minister, especially at this time of crisis, should desist from wasting state resources, time and personnel in carrying out any personal political agenda or vendetta. It demeans and belittles the position occupied and the responsibility that entails,” Roy had stated in the post.

As soon as he reached the police station, Roy was immediately sent to lock-up till the filing of the petition. “No arrest memo was issued nor was an FIR registered till date. He was reportedly asked to make a public apology in social media and mainstream media for giving a statement against the chief minister,” the rights group representatives, stated.

“It may be noted that on April 1, 2020. T Shadishkanta, secretary of Youth Forum for Protection of Human Rights (YFPHR) was picked up by a team of Porompat Police Station, Imphal East from his residence without any arrest warrant and without issuing arrest memo. Police filed an FIR at Porompat Police Station against him in connection with a press statement which the YFPHR has issued in the press,” they stated in the letter to the NHRC.

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