A horrifying on-camera confession by Manipur Police head constable Thounaojam Herojit Singh of killing an unarmed alleged militant Sanjit Meitei in a 23 July 2009 fake encounter in broad day light is just one of the many similar incidents in the state where extra-judicial killings have allegedly taken place.
In an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN, Singh admitted that he had pumped bullets from a point blank range with a 9mm pistol into the chest of the former PLA (People’s Liberation Army) militant acting on orders from his senior, the then additional superintendent of police in Imphal.
"Commandos of Manipur Police were in July 2009 accused of killing Sanjit Meitei, an alleged terrorist who had surrendered but was shot dead on a busy road in Imphal. The killing of the unarmed youth had led to protests in the state," the CNN-IBN report said.
What is even more worrying is that the Manipur Police commando claimed that the then Manipur DGP and chief minister were aware of the incident and that he now fears for his life.
Meitei's mother had later filed a police complaint accusing the police of staging a fake encounter involving his son and the case was subsequently transferred to CBI in 2010 for a thorough probe. She on Wednesday demanded justice from authorities failing which Singh be handed over to her.
Reacting to the report, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who is on a visit to Kerala, said in Thiruvananthapuram, "I will get the information and then I can comment...then we will look into it."
Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said the Centre has taken "cognisance" of the said reports on the
"I was little disturbed to see this news and confession which has been reported. We have taken cognisance of this
revelation and necessary steps will be taken," Rijiju said.
Congress leader RPN Singh questioned the silence of the police commando in the matter for all these years but said
it needed to be investigated if the reported confession was true. The incumbent Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh of the Congress was also the chief minister at the time of the alleged fake encounter.
Manipur is no stranger to fake encounters.
On 11 August, the Supreme Court had asked Manipur and the Centre "why no police cases have been lodged against the members of security forces who were suspected to have been involved in fake encounter and accidental killings in the state", according to an NDTV report.
In November 2013, the National Human Rights Commission examined 44 cases, the half of which were already declared earlier as not genuine incidents of gunfights between alleged militants and security personnel in Manipur by the human rights body.
"In 2013, the Supreme Court of India set up a three-judge committee to examine a case alleging 1,500 fake - or staged - encounters in Manipur carried out by the Indian security forces. Led by Justice Santosh Hegde, the committee selected six cases and found that none of them were genuine, a Firstpost article had said earlier.
With inputs from PTI