MHRC directs state to arrange secure place for RTI activists in hiding

A complaint was filed by a rights activist in connection with the four RTI activists, who are in hiding, fearing reprisal from the NSCN-IM.

(Representational Image: Unsplash)

The Manipur Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has directed the DGP Manipur, special secretary (Home) to arrange a secure place for sheltering four RTI activists, in hiding, fearing reprisal from the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM).  

The MHRC issued the directive in response to a complaint filed by rights activist, Wahengbam Joykumar Singh.

A statement issued by MHRC stated that the commission received three cases transferred from the National Human Rights Commission under section 13(6) of the protection of human Rights Act, 1993 for disposal in accordance with the provision of the act in connection with the threat to the RTI activists .

It stated the main grievances in the petition of the complainant are that four RTI activists namely Kh Enoch of Phaibung village, Senapati district; P Johnson of Taphou Phyamai village, Senapati district; SP Benjamin of Ngari Raidulomai village, Senapati district; PR Amose of Khabung Khunou village have been facing reprisal from the NSCN-IM since March 2020 after they had sought information through RTI in connection with the development works taken up by the government.

The petition further claimed that on January 20, 2020, some cadre of a faction of NSCN-IM abducted Enoch and tortured him and kept him for eight days at some unknown location and pressured him to withdraw the RTI application and ultimately he forcibly agreed to withdraw the RTI application.

Further on getting information about threats and intimidation inflicted on the RTI activists, 31 villagers of Taphou Phyamai village had filed 31 RTI applications in order to extend their support to the four RTI activists. One of the 31 RTI applications was reportedly abducted by the NSCN (IM). The abducted RTI activists were also subjected to threat and he was forced to withdraw the RTI applications he had filed along with 30 others RTI applications.

Subsequently, the complaint sought, “It is the bounded duty of the authorities to protect and secure the life and limb of the citizens and such, the authority concerned may provide each dwelling rooms or house of the victims users at some secure place like 1st MR complex, guest house or some secure places along with food grains till the amicable settlement of the case”.

On August 2, 2021, MHRC suo-motu had asked the director general of police, Manipur and Special Secretary (home), Manipur to look into the matter and submit their respective replies before the commission.

MHRC takes the matter as a very serious matter and considers the submission of the complainant in the interest of justice, the commission stated.

As such, MHRC had directed DGP, Manipur and special secretary (home), Manipur to find out a secure location so that the four RTI activists can be placed in order to secure their rights to life guaranteed under article 21 of the constitution. DGP, Manipur and special secretary (home) Manipur are also directed that basic requirements including food be provided to the four RTI activists in consultation with relevant government departments. DGP, Manipur and Special Secretary (home) Manipur should send compliance report to the commission in two weeks that is till September 28.

In the meantime, MHRC also informed that it issued notice to the joint secretary(home) North East, ministry of home affairs, government of India and Ceasefire monitoring Cell, ministry of home affairs, New Delhi to respond to the complaint petition and replication in written statement submitted by the four RTI activists in four weeks' time.

First Published:Sept. 18, 2021, 9:44 p.m.

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