“Every mother in this place will have a similar story to tell”: Illegal arrest, arbitrary detention & torture in Manipur

N Boinao, Priyokumar, Brojen Toigam & Oinam Hemanta: “It was horrible to see young men treated this way”

1. N Boinao, 21, son of N Amuchou
2. Priyokumar, 26, son of Ibobi (deceased)
3. Brojen Toigam, 35, son of Mohori (deceased)
4. Oinam Hemanta, 21, son of Lukhoi
INCIDENTS: Illegal arrest, arbitrary detention & torture
DATE: 15 July 2006
PLACE: Ward 7, Moreh

Jayantha, grandfather of N Boinao:
On 15 July 2006 four army vehicles came near our house. It was about 10pm. Since it was a warm day we had kept the windows open. Hearing the sound of boots Boinao¡¦s wife Laxmi opened the door and asked who was outside. They did not answer but rushed into our house. Boinao was sleeping inside. They dragged him out and then they searched the house. Everyone in the family was told to sign blank papers. They took thumb prints of all members of the family on those papers.

I was sleeping in a separate room. Hearing the commotion I came out. This was before the soldiers entered the house. I tried to ask them whom they were looking for and why they were taking my grandson. They informed me that they were taking him to the army camp for questioning.

The next day Boinao was handed over to the police at the Moreh police station. When the soldiers came, they had brought one policeman along with them. I was told that his name is Wahid. I was also informed that when the police were framing charges they wanted to add that a grenade was recovered from our house. However, the police constable refused to attest to that charge. Later I heard that the police decided to take my grandson along with others to Imphal.

When preparations were being made at the police station to take the detainees to Imphal, women gathered in front of the police station and protested. They insisted that the police could not take the detainees to Imphal. So the police contacted the superintendent of police at Chandel. The superintendent came to Moreh on the 17th. On the 18th the deputy inspector general also came, along with special force commandos. The officers told the women to go back home. They gave an assurance that the detainees would not be taken away without informing people. However, at about 10pm that night when there was no one protesting outside the police station they took them away.

My grandson was released on August 2. Now he is under treatment for injuries sustained while in custody. All the detainees were brutally tortured. They were beaten all over their bodies. They applied electric shocks to my grandson¡¦s penis. It was a hard sight for me to see him at the hospital. My grandson was recruited to the Indian Reserve Battalion. He was waiting for the confirmation of his medical tests to join. It was at this time that he was arrested and implicated in a crime which he did not commit. I am certain that he will not get through. The shock and trauma he suffered while in custody will not easily go away.

Sobitha, wife of Priyokumar:
My husband Priyokumar was arrested along with Boinao. We are neighbours. We did not know that the army was coming and had already arrested Boinao. On 15 July 2006 at about 10:30pm we heard the front door of our house shaking. It was as if somebody was trying to break it open. The door was bolted from inside. I woke up hearing the noise and thought it was some thief. So I kneeled down and looked out through the gap between the door and the floor. In the faint light outside I could see army boots and also at a distance I could see army men in uniform. Suddenly the door at the back was kicked open by an army man. They poured into the house.

The soldiers shouted to raise our hands. They asked us our names. At that time I was at home with my husband and child. My husband was sleeping, and hearing the sound he also woke up. He was taken into custody and the officers, who were armed with guns, searched our house. They pulled down everything, including containers of grain and other food. I asked the officers why my husband was being taken into custody. I informed them that he is a daily labourer and asked them not to hurt him. I saw an officer slapping him on his face and dragging him out from the house. I tried to stop them, but another officer pushed me inside with the butt of his gun. I fell down.

Then they dragged my husband out of our compound towards one of the army jeep. I followed them begging them not to take my husband away. At that time an officer turned around and told me to go inside my house and go back to sleep. I could not, but neither could I follow my husband. I saw him kicked by army officers while he was thrown into the jeep. Then an officer came and told me to sign a paper. There was nothing written on the paper. It was an empty form. I refused. But I was told to sign it at gunpoint. I had no option other than to oblige.

My mother-in-law stays nearby. I went and met her and asked her to gather the other women in the locality. By the time the women gathered they had taken away my husband along with several others. He was released on July 21. When I met him, I could see that he had been severely injured. I asked him how and he informed me that he was tortured while in army custody. He said that the night he was arrested he was taken to the army barracks. Once inside he was undressed and water was poured on him. Later they started beating him and asking for information related to some rebel movement activists. My husband informed them that he is a daily labourer and that he did not know about anyone whom they were asking about. Then they tied a wire on to his penis and connected the free end of the wire to a power supply. He screamed out loud. At that time an officer held a piece of cloth on his mouth and made him silent. Soon he lost consciousness. He said while he was tortured he could hear other persons crying out from nearby rooms in the barracks.

Since my husband was released until now he has been in a hospital at Imphal. He is recovering, but we are afraid that the army will again come and take him into custody. So we wish we could leave from this place.

Ithobi Toigam, mother of Brojen Toigam:
On 15th July 2006 night I heard sounds outside my house. I could not make out what it was. I thought the pigs were fighting. Soon I heard someone stamping at my door. Before I could open the door, the latch snapped and the door was thrown open. An army officer entered the house and started speaking in Hindi. Before I could reply or even understand what the person was asking or looking for more soldiers came in. Along with them there was also a police officer. They did not find anything. Brojen was sleeping inside the house. He also woke up upon hearing the noise.

They grabbed Brojen and took him outside the house in spite of our protest. They bolted the door from outside. I saw Priyokumar sitting on the veranda, guarded by other military persons. After a while an officer opened the door and told us to sign a few documents. My daughter-in-law Premila refused to sign. She asked why she should sign the documents since nothing was written on them. We asked why they were taking Brojen, and the police constable answered that they were taking him only to ask a few questions. I did not see my son being beaten, but I saw Priyokumar was kicked around and forced into an army vehicle blindfolded.

It was horrible to see young men being treated this way by the forces that came supposedly to protect us from criminals and anti-national forces.

Oinam Hemanta:
On 16 July 2006 at about 4am we heard someone violently knocking at our door. We were all sleeping. We opened the door. As the door opened army officers rushed into the house. There was a policeman named Wahid too. The officers who came inside opened the mosquito net around our bed. My brother¡¦s wife and brother were asked to stay outside the house at gunpoint. They asked us several questions regarding involvement with the underground forces. I denied any involvement with anything to do with the underground groups. They asked my brother to give me some clothes and took me away after they forced us to sign two documents.

I was released on August 2. Before being released I was handed over to the police and accused of possession of four cartridges. However, the police officer who was present at the time of arrest denied that the army had recovered anything from my custody at that time.

While I was in army custody I was brutally tortured. I am undergoing treatment for the injuries I sustained. While in police custody I was taken to the doctor twice. The jail doctor informed the authorities that my condition was not stable and that I had to be given better treatment. The jail doctor also sent his report to the chief judicial magistrate of Chandel, in Imphal.

I do not want to discuss what happened to me while I was in army custody. That experience gives me nightmares and I do not know how to get it out of my mind.

Abdul Wahid, police constable, Moreh police station:
They send two police officials to accompany army officers during every operation. For the July 15 operation in Ward 7 of Moreh, I was asked to go along with another constable, Shyam. We witnessed several persons being arrested. One person¡¦s name I remember as Priyokumar. In his arrest memo it was written that he was a member of the UNLF [United National Liberation Front]. In my opinion it is not correct to brand a person like that.

After the arrest and search both myself and Shyam were given memos to sign in which it was mentioned that during the search five 9mm cartridges were seized from the possession of one Boinam, and a Chinese-made grenade was also seized from one of the persons who were arrested. I refused to sign this fabricated document, though my friend Shyam was prepared to do so, out of fear. However, later he also decided not to sign. In fact we did not recover anything like that during our search. The army appears to be making up cases with which to charge people with crimes to justify their operations.

The police must monitor army actions. However, the police are threatened by the army. One of our officers who refused to comply with the demands of the army lost his life. On August 3 there was also a confrontation with the army. They came to our police station and asked for two police officers. The officer in charge was one of the two who went with them, and saw the army beating up kids for eating tobacco. When he protested he also was beaten up by the army along with the boys. When he came back to the police station and explained the incident to us, we were all in low spirit. While he was explaining it the army officers again came asking for two officers and I told them to go away, saying that they have no business here. We are since informed that the army officers have furnished a false report to their superior officers stating that the officer in charge was under the influence of alcohol. I can vouch that this is impossible since I know that the officer in charge is a true Muslim.

The army has a unit that they call operative intelligence. You never know who works for this unit. Its officers never appear in uniform. They walk around freely, gather information and target people for arrest and later come for our help to get them. In many cases they take people into custody on a suspicion and torture them. In most cases these people are youngsters who have nothing to do with any secessionist movement. By the time these people are put back in police custody to be produced in court they might have suffered the worst from the military.

In most cases the army gets a fabricated medical certificate from a doctor who never even sees the detainee and hands him over to us to be produced in court. The army provides the name and address of the person and the doctor issues the certificate saying that the person is in perfect health. However, when we see the person he has a swollen face and bruises all over the body, and injuries from being beaten and brutally tortured. One of the most common methods is to apply electric shocks to the penis. When the person is produced before the magistrate he does not complain because those who complain cannot return home. If the army comes to know that someone has complained they will kill him later and claim it was done in an encounter.

Even magistrates are afraid of the army. If they take any action against the army then they will get them on the street. They will harass a magistrate in the presence of family members and even take them into custody for questioning. If this is the situation of magistrates and police officers like me then you can imagine the conditions of ordinary people who are detained and arrested by the army.

A soldier can shoot to kill and all that he needs to say is that the person shot was suspected to be an underground activist. They enjoy absolute power in this region. If the army takes someone into custody and tortures him brutally and thinks that the person will die soon they will simply kill the person and throw the body into some forest and later say that he was killed in an encounter.

These raids that the army conducted [in July and August] were the result of an insurgent attack on an army camp in the first week of July. The insurgents fired RPGs at the army camp from Burma. One fell near the gate of the camp and one non-commissioned officer died. About ten RPGs fell on the rooftops of houses and people lost property and also many suffered injuries. Now the army came and raided houses, while we as policemen are forced to be silent spectators and witnesses. I do not know when this will end. The ordinary people here suffer equally from the army as well as the insurgents.

It is true that we can register cases against army officers where we receive complaints. But who will dare to complain in these circumstances? What is the guarantee that people like us who work for the police will not face an attack by the army if we take action against army officers? All that we can do now is hope that the government will come up with some solution to this problem.

Jano: Crying from fear & hugging his mother

2. VICTIM: Jano, son of Punshi
INCIDENTS: Illegal arrest, arbitrary detention & torture
DATE: 16 July 2006
PLACE: Ward 7, Moreh

Mani Thombi, mother:
The army came to our house past midnight of July 16. There were about 100 soldiers. They surrounded our house and knocked at our door, which I opened. They searched the house but could not find anything. My son was sleeping in the room which is open to the front veranda; it has no door. He woke up and was asked to step out of the room. Then one army officer came out with a grenade in his hand and asked my son in Hindi what it was. In fact, he did not know what it was. He also can not speak Hindi, but my elder daughter can. She said to the army officer that it, ¡§It appears to be a grenade that you might have brought along with you while you came and now want to use to implicate my brother.¡¨

The army had come with a list of names which they claimed was the list of suspects in the locality. I said to the army officer that there is another person in the locality with the same name as my son and informed him that it might be that person whom they were looking for. However, the officers did not listen.

My son was crying from fear and they did not understand that my son could not even speak sensibly since he is mentally disabled due to a fall from a tree when he was a child. He hugged me by my waist and cried loud. The army officer kicked my son on his back and it hurt him. He also has a problem with his walking. So they dragged him away. I tried to follow him. I was recovering from surgery and had a pain in my waist. When I tried following an officer kicked me there. The pain was unbearable. However, I could not stay back since my son¡¦s life was at stake. I cried aloud and shouted at the officers saying that they were making a terrible mistake by taking my poor son away. I saw them throwing my son into the army vehicle.

I could not keep quiet. I ran around waking up people and urged them to follow the army vehicles to wherever it went. While doing this I forgot the pain in my waist. I managed to get to the Mairaphabi [women¡¦s organisation]. By that time I had a severe pain in my right shoulder. I was also scared to chase the army vehicles alone. So I had to wait until it was daybreak to continue.

At morning we gathered together in front of the police station. By about 4pm my son, along with many others whom I was informed were also arrested during the night, were brought to the police station. I could see that my son had been brutally tortured. He was shown to a doctor who advised that he be given more medical treatment. However the police refused to provide any.

As a mother I cannot forget the look in my son¡¦s eyes when he was brought to the police station. I also cannot forget the way he tried to hug me when he was pulled away from me by the army. I cannot forget the officer who kicked my son and me. However, to whom shall we complain about all this? The police are equally helpless. To the army or to the government who sent the army here? Or to the insurgents? Every day here is uncertain. You can never be sure about tomorrow.

Meisanam Premkumar: ¡§He will not come back; he is afraid that he will be taken again¡¨

3. VICTIM: Meisanam Premkumar, 26, son of Ibotombi
INCIDENTS: Illegal arrest & arbitrary detention
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Assam Rifles personnel
DATE: 16 July 2006
PLACE: Moreh

Shanti, elder sister:
At about 4:30am on 16 July 2006 thirty soldiers from the Assam Rifles kicked at our front door. My brother opened the door. There were two policemen also. They entered and searched our house. They did not find anything and started questioning us. My brother said his name is Amo, but the officers said that his name is Premkumar. They pulled a paper out of a red file and all of us were told to sign it. I did not sign, but my younger brother signed along with my father-in-law and sister-in-law. They accused my brother of being a member of the UNLF. In fact, he has nothing to do with this UNLF. He is married and has a child.

My brother was taken away in an army vehicle. He was later released but will not come back since he is afraid that he will be taken into custody again.

Soibam Mithun: “I have no words to explain how I feel now”

4. VICTIM: Soibam Mithun, 23, son of Soibam Samu
INCIDENTS: Illegal arrest, arbitrary detention & torture
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: 24 Assam Rifles personnel
DATES: 21-22 July 2006
PLACE: Ward 7, Moreh

I came here to give tuition to children as I finished 12th grade. On the night of July 21-22 I opened the door, hearing someone outside. I wanted to go out but my brother and mother held me back. Then an army officer stepped into the light. He asked all of us to step outside. As we came out, soldiers poured into the house. We were told to stay with our hands raised while one pointed his rifle at us. The officers who went inside came out with some CDs. An arrest memo was produced. I did not see anyone preparing it. However, my name was on the memo and the underground organisation UNLF was also mentioned. I was beaten up and put into the army vehicle. My brother and mother protested, but no one heard them and an officer threatened that if they made more noise then they would take my brother too. Still my brother did not stop shouting, but my mother was so scared that she held her palm across my brother¡¦s mouth to keep him silent. I was thrown into the army vehicle.

I was taken to the 24 Assam Rifles¡¦ camp in a Gypsy [an SUV commonly by the army]. On our way to the camp we did not stop at the police station. At the army camp I was blindfolded and taken to a room. My legs and hands were tied. I was told to lie face up on a wooden cot. My legs were stretched and my underwear was removed. A wire was fixed to my testicles and they applied electric shocks. I had not suffered anything like that in the past. They hit me on the back of my head with a rifle butt. They accused me of being a UNLF cadre. I told them that I am not. The more I said that I am not connected with any organisation and that I was making a living by private tuition, the more they hit me and applied electric shocks. For a moment my blindfold was removed and I also saw others like me in the same room being tortured in a similar manner.

The interrogation continued for about a few hours, until 4am. Later I was told to have some tea, but when the tea was brought they poured it onto my thigh: the scar is still there. In the morning I was told to sit in the sun and made to eat chilies. They also sprayed chili powder in my eyes. I could not urinate and they gave me some tablets, which they forced me to take and drink a lot of water. Still I could not urinate. Then an officer came and threatened me again. He asked lot of questions about whether I was associated with the UNLF. I repeated that I was not. They asked me, ¡§Who fired the shells?¡¨ ¡§Who killed the Subedar [an army rank]?¡¨ I said that I was in Imphal during the time of that incident, but they thought that I was lying.

At about 4pm I was blindfolded again. When the blindfold was removed I found that I was at the police station. I stayed there for a day and the next day was taken to Imphal where I was produced at the Chief Judicial Magistrate¡¦s Court. I was remanded till the 27th and then was again produced before the court and released on bail the same day. In between I was interrogated at the Imphal police station and Kangla police station. I said that, ¡§Whether you torture me or not, I don¡¦t have anything to say.¡¨ I was not tortured much at the police station. I have a friend at Kangla police station and because of him I was not tortured at all there.

I have no words how to explain how I feel now. It is very difficult to put in words. One has to go through it to understand it. I am so scared of the army that I do not feel comfortable when an army person is travelling in the same bus with me. I find it difficult to go out of my house since on the road you meet soldiers. I still have problems with my testicles and to urinate. I am still undergoing treatment.

I do not think that I can live here anymore. I do not know what to do now. I want to finish my life.

Moirangthem Ibohal: “What is an arrest memo? A document to measure the level of torture?”

5. VICTIM: Moirangthem Ibohal, 30
INCIDENTS: Illegal arrest, arbitrary detention & torture
DATES: 30-31 July 2006
PLACE: Moreh

Leibaklai Moirangthem, mother:
At about 10:30pm on 30-31 July 2006 we heard a few vehicles coming and stopping by our house. When my dog barked the occupants threw stones at it. Soon the dog came in and the gate was pushed open, and they knocked at the door. Before I could open it the army broke the door open and came inside. A police officer was also present. They searched my room. They asked who was staying upstairs. I said that an old lady stays there and that she had gone to Imphal.

They knocked at my son¡¦s door and pushed it open. My daughter-in-law and my three grandchildren were sleeping on the floor; my son was sleeping on the bed. They searched every corner of the room. They opened my son¡¦s cupboard and tried placing something inside the cupboard between the blankets. I could see what they were doing from outside. I shouted from outside and asked what they were doing inside the cupboard. One of the officers came outside the room and signaled me to keep quiet by putting his finger across his mouth.

Then they searched my son. My son asked the officer what he or anyone else in the family had done. Soon they started beating him. I cried out loud along with my grandchildren and my daughter-in-law, asking them not to beat my son. They stopped beating him for a while, but suddenly one slapped him on his face. The slap was so hard that the sound was like a firecracker. My son had a previous injury on his cheek and he screamed out loud from pain. I felt faint.

Soon another soldier brought a paper. We were told to sign that paper, on which it was written that my son was associated with the UNLF. Then they dragged him out of the house. We continued protesting, but it was no use. I tried to stop them. Then one officer came and asked for a medical certificate to show about my son¡¦s treatment. We gave it. We thought that he was being taken in an army vehicle to the police station. We went to the police station along with others in the locality. However we did not find him there. I informed a police officer what had happened. The police officer said that if they had prepared an arrest memo it must be okay and that they would not torture him very much. I did not understand this logic. They arrested and beat my son, searched our house without permission and accused my son of being a member of the UNLF. Now these officers said that if there is an arrest memo prepared the chances of the army torturing my son are less compared to if they have not prepared one. What is this arrest memo? Is it a document to measure the level of torture?

Soon I realised that there were lot of other people also had been taken into custody on the same night and it became a public issue.

About 5pm the next day they produced my son along with others at the police station. But the police refused to receive him since his condition was so bad and the army had wrongly recorded the time of arrest. The police officer said that they could not accept him because he might die in police custody. I did not have any more tears to shed. I was like a piece of wood. The son to whom I gave birth and brought up and who was to take care of me and his family and the only hope for us now was so brutally injured that he could not even open his eyes. His face was swollen from beating and he was so red from bruises that it was the worst sight I had ever seen.

The army kept insisting that the police should accept my son, but the police kept refusing. They refused for about 12 hours. All this time I was begging various persons to get my son a doctor, but no one heard my cries. You cannot understand this pain unless you are a mother. And look around you and every mother in this place will have a similar story to tell. They are murderers.

Later the police accepted my son and kept him for 12 more days without producing him in court. I was told later that the police cannot do this and to extend remand they must go to court. What kind of justice system do we have here in this country?

My son is still in custody. Whom shall I complain to about what is happening? To the government, army or police? He will be produced in court today and I have to go. I have complained in court; however, the court is also helpless. It seems that nobody who has complained in the court has ever received any good. The only thing that will happen is when you come out of court you will face another army officer who will threaten you by asking why you complained to the court. They ask, ¡§Don¡¦t you want to live in your village?¡¨ They said that will burn our house and rape our women if we complain. I am no more afraid. I am sure that by the time my son is released he will have suffered so much that he will find it difficult to lead a normal life. None of us are spared.

Huirem Bhakta: “I had to pay the police to take me from the army”

6. VICTIM: Huirem Bhakta
INCIDENT: Illegal arrest, arbitrary detention & torture
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel
DATE: 17 July 2006
PLACE: Thoubal

[In mid-2006] I was abducted by an underground group and taken to their hideout. I was beaten up by them since they thought that I was an army and police informer. I said that I am a poor farmer and had nothing to do with the army or police. They released me after a few days.

Once I was released, I was taken into custody by the army. I was arrested on the night of July 17 and taken from my house blindfolded to a CRPF outpost and later to a camp in a bulletproof vehicle with some others. While in the vehicle we were kicked around, but the real torture was once we were in the camp.

They separated us then asked us about guns, wireless sets and grenades. I informed them that I had none of those things. Then they started telling me if I did not have those things to tell them where they could find such things and who kept such things. I said that I do not know anyone who keeps such things.

Then I was told to lie down. My hands and legs were tied together. I could not see what they used to torture me, but I can say it was heavy and flat. They kept beating me with it all over my body. When the pain became unbearable I tried to stand up. Then they held me down with an iron rod. They forced my mouth open with a rifle barrel. A stone was inserted into my mouth and they continued beating me. I could not cry since the stone was inside my mouth. They hit me heavily on the spine. Then they forced something on to my shoulder and tried twisting it. The torture continued from 5am to 6pm. Thereafter we were taken to a doctor who gave us some tablets to eat.

When I was handed over to the [regular] police, the police first refused to take me into custody. They were scared since they thought that I may die from my injuries. I had to pay 2500 rupees to the police for them to take me from the army. Once in police custody I had to pay a lawyer 11500 rupees as a fee for bailing me out on July 25. But all of this is nothing compared to what I faced while I was in army custody.

As in many cases, an arrest memo was prepared for me and handed over to my relatives. But what is the purpose of such a piece of paper if they ignore all laws and torture us at will? I have filed a complaint with the superintendent of police but I am sure that there will be no action taken on it. The CRPF is more powerful than anyone in the government. I want to pursue my case and somehow get out of this place, but I do not know where to go.

Namoijam Chothoi: Tortured in old wounds

7. VICTIM: Namoijam Chothoi, 28, son of Bibison
INCIDENTS: Illegal arrest, arbitrary detention & torture
DATE: 17 July 2006
PLACE: Thoubal

Bibison, father:
My son was arrested on 17 July 2006. The army came to our house and knocked at our door. I told them that I could not open the door unless they told me who they were and who they were looking for. My son had been abducted by underground forces a few weeks before and I was scared that they would come for him again. They replied that they were army so I starting opening the door; they did not wait but kicked it down and stormed into the house. They held a rifle to my head. I told them not to harm me or anyone inside the house. They got my son from his bed and took him out. He still had injuries from the assaults he had suffered at the hands of the underground movement people. He had bandages on his body. They started beating him in front of me. I pleaded with them not to beat my son but they did not listen. They dragged him into a vehicle in which they had come. When they were taking him I cried to them not to take him and hugged their legs. Then one officer hit me with a rifle butt. I fell down and they took my son.

I met my son at the Bishnupur Chief Judicial Magistrate¡¦s Court on the 25th. Between the 17th and 25th I tried my best to find where my son was being held but I was not successful. When I met him at the court he told me that while he was dragged to the vehicle his bandages had fallen off from his wounds and later in the army camp the soldiers tortured him on his wounds. Now he is deaf in his right ear due to a severe injury from beating and slapping.

He is still in the custody of the police. I do not know when he will be released. I have contacted a lawyer who is the neighbour of one of my relatives. The lawyer has collected about 11000 rupees from us. To raise this money we had to sell our year¡¦s rice supply and also pawn our gold. The community also helped. The police officers at Moirang police station have also asked for money. The sub divisional police officer¡¦s staff informed us that unless we pay them 500 rupees each then they will not release my son.

Ningthoujm Deven: Assaulted with a hockey stick

8. VICTIM: Ningthoujm Deven, 33, son of Ango
INCIDENTS: Illegal arrest, arbitrary detention & torture
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Camp commander Jitendra and subordinates, 7 Assam Rifles
DATE: 8 October 2005
PLACE: Thoubal

In the night of 8 October 2005 some people came to my house and asked me to open the door. They did not identify themselves as army officers. When we opened the door I could see that they were in army uniform. The moment the door was opened they came rushing inside the house. I asked them what the problem was. They did not answer, but dragged me out of the house into a waiting vehicle. My father tried to stop them but could not.

The women in the family raised the alarm by ringing bells. There was a person along with the army persons who had covered his face with a black cloth. I could only see his eyes. He was the person who identified me to them. I was taken in a vehicle to the 7 Assam Rifles Camp at Sagang. The camp commander, Jitendra, ordered that maximum force be used to extract information from me. I said that, ¡§I can give you any information which I know,¡¨ and pleaded for them not to hurt me. But I did not know what information they wanted from me.

I was actively working as the organizer of a drug rehabilitation programme for the Southern Rural Development Organisation, of which I was the assistant secretary. It is a registered non-governmental organisation. Many people, particularly youth, seek our help. We do not know the identities of the persons who come and accept our services. We provide counseling and medical care through hospitals. I thought probably the army was expecting information regarding some persons who had visited us. In fact we do not collect personal details like addresses or other contact details of those who visit us, to safeguard identity and maintain confidentiality. I was quite certain that if the army was looking for information regarding persons whom we attend to in our centre I could explain to them the nature of our work and get out of custody. But what followed turned my beliefs upside down.

The army officers first started kicking me. Then they took me to a room. My hands were tied together and my legs held together with another rope. Then I was told to lie down on the floor. They raised my legs and started beating me on them. They did not ask any questions at first. I started to cry out loudly in pain. I pleaded to them to stop hitting me but they continued, using a hockey stick.

Then one officer asked me, ¡§Where is the mobile phone and guns?¡¨ The officer also asked me where I had hidden money. They also asked me when and where the underground movement would strike again. I said I did not know and I also said that I did not have any weapon or mobile phone, but they did not listen. When I tried to move they threatened me that if I moved much they would apply chili to my anus and mouth and would break my bones. But I could not help moving violently from pain.

I was handed over to the Kumbi police station at about 3pm the next day. Since that police station did not have any jurisdiction in my case, I was kept there for a day and the next day transferred to Sugunu police station. But that station did not have any place to keep detainees, so I was taken to Imphal police station.

At Imphal I was taken to the residence of the Chief Judicial Magistrate. I informed the magistrate what happened to me. However the magistrate remanded me till the 14th. I was bailed out then. I was not examined by a doctor. The magistrate did not take any steps to do that. However, after I was released I admitted myself to the Regional Medical Centre. I have also filed a medico legal case against the army, which is going on. However, now I am infected with tuberculosis. I am informed by the doctor that the infection is probably due to the injuries I sustained while in custody.

I will not give up my case. If I die before my case is decided, I hope my wife and children will continue the fight.

Footnote: These stories were documented by Bijo Francis, South Asia programme officer with the Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong, in Moreh and Thoubal, Manipur, during August 2006.

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