Manipur Tribal Forum Delhi seeks SIT probe
The Supreme Court today directed the government to take necessary measures for the rehabilitation of persons displaced due to ethnic violence in Manipur.
A bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud also sought protection of places of religious worship, and necessary arrangements in terms of food and medical care for the violence-hit people currently sheltered in relief camps.
The bench passed the directives after hearing a batch of petitions filed in connection with the Manipur violence. One of the petitions filed by the Manipur Tribal Forum Delhi (MTFD) appealed for an Special Investigative Team (SIT) probe into the violence in Manipur. The MTFD proposed that the probe be headed by Harekrishna Deka, former Director General of Police Assam and monitored by Chief Justice Tinlianthang Vaiphei, retired Chairman of Meghalaya State Human Rights Commission etc.
The petitions also included one by Dinganglung Gangmei, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA and chairman of the Hills Area Committee of the Manipur Legislative Assembly, challenging the Manipur High Court order on the issue of Scheduled Tribe status to the Meitei community, and a public interest litigation by an NGO, ‘Manipur Tribal Forum’, for a probe by an special investigation team into the violence.
On the plea by the BJP MLA, the Supreme Court refused to interfere with the high court order, stating that the high court doesn’t have the power to accord ST status to any community as it’s a presidential power and the Manipur HC has only said that the state government shall forward a recommendation to the government of India.
On the HC order, Solicitor General of India (SGI), Tushar Mehta told the SC that the State government of Manipur is taking appropriate steps in respect of order of single judge of the HC dated March 27, 2023 by moving the competent forum.
“The Solicitor has said that action is being taken by competent forum so we’ll not get into it further,” the apex court said.
Meanwhile, arguing for petitioners senior advocate Colin Gonsalves appealed to the bench to into account the killings and burnings that have taken place the past three days i.e, on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
SGI Mehta argued that statements would have an impact and underscored the need to avoid saying something which might have an adverse impact- intended or unintended.
To this, Gonsalves representing the petitioners, said that he was only asking for evacuation of persons.
“I want the army to evacuate us,” he said, adding “They are at army hospitals, see how critically ill they are. They need to be moved.”
As for the steps taken for restoring normalcy, the SGI informed the bench that normalcy was being restored and that curfew was relaxed for 3-4 hours across the state today as well as yesterday. He further said that 52 companies of CAPF, 110 arms of Assam Rifles have been deployed in Manipur.
“A senior police officer has been appointed as security officer. Another senior officer is serving as chief security officer. Peace meetings are being conducted and constant vigilance is maintained,” he said.
“Helicopters and drones are deployed to ensure security. Relief camps have been set up to provide medical aid and food. Movement of persons who have been stranded has been facilitated,” the SGI added.