Manipur fake encounter: Time to revisit Justice Hegde commission recommendations

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The confession of head constable Heojit Singh from Manipur about an encounter that was fake has promoted one to look into the recommendations made by the Supreme Court appointed Justice Santhosh Hegde Commission. Singh had recently confessed that he had shot a member of an insurgent group, Sanjit Meitei at Imphal.

He further stated that he shot him while he was unarmed. His confessions make it clear that the encounter was fake. This brings us to discussing the recommendations that were made by the Justice Hegde commission in 2013.

Manipur

The commission which also comprised former Chief Election Commission J M Lyngdoh and retired IPS officer A K Singh was constituted to investigate the extra judicial killings in Manipur.

What had the commission recommended:

First and foremost the commission noted that there has been rampant misuse of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act or AFSPA. This act has failed to tackle insurgency, the commission noted. Further it also noted that encounters being carried out were not genuine.

"It would appear that the security forces believed a priori that the suspects involved in the encounters had to be eliminated and the forces acted accordingly," the report also stated.

Further it was also noted that the armed forces should not be used to fight Indians. It was stated that the people who were being killed were Indians and there is a need to fight them in a different manner.

There is a need to have a police force of Manipur in troubled areas and also ensure that they reside with their families so that there is a level of psychological kindness in them.

Provide security to citizens:

The report also stated that maximum force was being used to kill people. Though the Act gives sweeping powers to security forces even to extend of killing a suspect with protection against prosecution, it does not provide any protection to the citizens against its possible misuse.

Normally, the greater the power, the greater the restraint and stricter the mechanism to prevent its misuse or abuse. But in case of the AFSPA in Manipur this principle appears to have been reversed," the commission also noted.

The commission also makes a note of how governments should do more to ensure that Manipur is utilised as a tourism destination.

It is a wonderful place for tourism and the governments must capitalise on it. None of the governments have done anything to improve the situation out there and each one has been using Manipur for their own selfishness, the commission further observed.

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