Manipur, Ethnic violence
Ethnic violence in Manipur continues unabated (Photo courtesy Twitter)

SC intervention to end deadlock a ray of hope as Centre, state fail Manipur

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A slew of significant directives the apex court gave on Monday (August 7) to “restore a sense of faith in the rule of law” in violence-hit Manipur is the much-needed intervention that could end governance paralysis the state is facing.

Manipur is reeling under ethnic violence for over three months as both the Centre and the state governments have miserably failed to reach out to the warring communities, prompting the apex court to intervene to provide a “healing touch.”

The court constituted a three-member all-women judicial committee “to supervise, intervene and monitor relief and rehabilitation, restoration of homesteads, religious places of worship, better relief work, etc.”

Also read: SC announces panel of 3 female ex-HC judges for relief, rehab of Manipur victims

The broad-based committee will be headed by former chief justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Justice Gita Mittal. Other members of the committee are a former judge of the Delhi High Court, Justice Asha Menon and a retired judge of the Bombay High Court, and Justice Shalini Phansalkar Joshi.

Besides, the court also decided to ensure multi-layered monitoring into the overall investigation of violence.

No confidence on Centre, state govt?

The steps are seen as a clear no confidence on the Centre and the state governments as well as investigating agencies.

The court named retired Maharashtra cadre IPS officer Dattatray Padsalgikar to monitor investigation of cases related to all forms of violence in the state. Over 6,500 FIRs have been registered since the violence broke out in the state on May 3. The state has transferred 11 cases of sexual violence, including the one concerning parading of two women naked by a mob in Thoubal district, to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The BJP-led government in Manipur formed 42 special investigation teams (SITs) to probe the remaining cases.

To keep an eye on the SIT probe, the top court said it would direct directors general of police (DGPs) of six states to depute six deputy- inspector-general (DIG)-rank officials. The officers will oversee the investigations of the state police.

Also read: Manipur: Amid ethnic strife, Assam Rifles faces battle of sorts

This apart, the court ordered inclusion of at least one inspector from the other state in the SITs.

A step forward

“It’s a step forward. It will help end the stalemate both in investigations and providing relief to the affected people,” senior Supreme Court advocate Colin Gonsalves, who represented Manipur Tribal Forum Delhi, told The Federal, welcoming the court’s directives.

He also said that the formation of the judicial committee to oversee the humanitarian aspects of the crisis and bringing officials from outside to monitor the probe is a “clear expression of no confidence in the state government as well as the Centre.”

A noted human rights activist of Manipur, Babloo Loitongbam, too feels that the top court’s initiatives could help establish accountability.

“Fixing of accountability is the first step towards normalising the situation,” he said.

Also read: Withdraw ‘bodies of infiltrators’ remark made in SC: Manipuri women slam Solicitor General

He said that the court should also intervene to ensure that the investigating agencies should identify “key players” behind the unprecedented violence.

“Unless the masterminds are identified and brought to book, the peace will not be fully restored,” he added. “The purview of the investigation should not be limited to criminal excesses committed during the violence.”

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