In 2004, the brutal abduction, rape, torture and murder of 32 year old Thangjam Manorama by Assam Rifles personnel triggered a fresh demand for the repeal of AFSPA. In 2014, the Supreme Court ordered the government to pay a Rs. 10 lakh as interim compensation to her mother – the only official acknowledgement of the crimes committed on Manorama by the state in custody. This, despite the indictment of the security forces by an important enquiry commission set up by the Manipur Government itself under the chairmanship of retired District and Sessions Judge, C. Upendra Singh. A look at the key findings reveals why the state and the army did their best to bury the report.
In the case of EEVFAM (Extrajudicial Executions Victim Families Association) vs Union of India & Ors, the Supreme Court mandated the Santosh Hegde Commission (2013) to enquire into the functioning of the state security forces and transgressions of legal bounds, if any, in several alleged ‘encounter killings’. The Commission found that all cases were ‘not genuine encounters’ and that the victims did not have any criminal records. The report makes it clear that the guidelines on encounters laid down by the SC in the Naga People’s Movement case was not followed, and states unequivocally that the security forces ‘are quick to open fire but reluctant to take responsibility for the killings.’
Constituted to recommend amendments to the laws after the 2012 Delhi gang rape case, the JVC made a strong argument that ‘impunity for systematic or isolated sexual violence in the process of Internal Security duties is being legitimised by the Armed Forces Special Powers Act’ and argued that it ‘must be recognised that women in conflict areas are entitled to all the security and dignity that is afforded to citizens in any other part of our country…’