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AHRC - Urgent Appeals Programme: Illegal Arrest in Nagaland

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-153-2011

6 September 2011

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INDIA: Arbitrary detention, torture and enforced disappearance in Nagaland

ISSUES: Illegal arrest; enforced disappearance; militarisation; impunity
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from Centre for Organisation Research and Education (CORE) concerning the case of arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance of a person from the indigenous community in Imphal, Manipur. It is reported that on 18 August at about 7.00 pm, some persons from the Assam Rifles and the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland - Isaac Muivah (NSCN-IM) picked up the victim, a person from the indigenous community of Manipur state and since then he is reported missing.

The victim, Mr Gurumayum Jiteshwor alias G.M. Changjou alias Gypsy, aged about 49 years, son of Mr Gurumayum Goshai Sharma, is from Nagamapal Singjubung Leirak, in Imphal, Manipur state. When the victim was abducted he was at Dimapur, a city in neighbouring Nagaland state. The family had lodged complaints regarding the missing of the victim. Yet the police have reportedly taken no affirmative action to trace the person. It is suspected that the Assam Rifles and the NSCN-IM is responsible for the disappearance of the victim.

CASE NARRATIVE:

It is reported that officers from the Assam Rifles, an Indian Paramilitary Unit and persons associated with the NSCN-IM abducted the victim on 18 August at about 7.00 pm from his residence located at Duncan Basti in Dimapur. Dimapur is a city in Nagaland state. At the time of arrest, the victim was not informed why he was taken into custody, or where he will be taken. Neither were any relatives of the victim informed about the arrest.

Since then the family does not know the whereabouts of the victim. It is reported that the family was also not informed whether the victim would be produced in a court as required by the law or handed over to the civilian police within the time prescribed in law. The NSCN is a political entity operating in the Northeastern states of India, in particular, Manipur and Nagaland. They do not have any legal mandate to maintain law and order. NSCN is a political outfit, formerly fighting against the government, and now after negotiations with the government, reported to be working with the state security agencies.

It is reported that two Manipuri speaking unidentified persons in civilian clothes came into the residence of the victim at Dimapur. After a brief conversation, the two persons forced the victim, Gurumayum to go along with them. Soon an altercation erupted between the victim and his two visitors. It is reported that the two persons assaulted the victim. It is also reported that one of the persons tried holding a pistol at the victim's back to threaten and subdue him. Other persons, who were waiting outside the house, also in civilian cloths, joined them. When the victim was dragged away officers from the Assam Rifles in uniform joined them.

The family of the victim alleges that those who came inside the house also took away valuables from the house, including gold ornaments, for which no seizure memo was prepared. It is reported that neither the victim nor his family members were informed why the victim was taken into custody and where he is taken to at the time of arrest. On the next day morning at about 10.05 am the victim has reportedly sent a text message through his mobile telephone informing his family that the persons who took him into custody were from the Assam Rifles and the NSCM-IM. There was a subsequent message by around 3.05 pm on the same day from the mobile telephone of the victim. But the sending and receiving of the text messages need to be further verified since it is not certain who have sent the message. When the family later tried to reach the victim over his mobile telephone, the phone was switched off. Since then they had no further contact with the victim.

On 20 August, Ms Gurumayum Radha Devi, the victim's mother filed a missing person's complaint at the office of the Director General of Police (DGP) in Manipur state. The complaint reportedly narrates the circumstances in which the victim was taken into custody and about the text messages. The complaint sought the state government of Manipur to help in the case of her missing son, who was taken into custody by the Assam Rifles, the day before in neighbouring Nagaland. It is reported that the neither the police nor the state government have taken any credible or prompt actions upon the complaint. A subsequent complaint was also filed at Dimapur West Police Station, Nagaland. None of these complaints are reportedly registered as cases either at Manipur or at Nagaland.

Since then, the authorities in Nagaland and Manipur have not responded to the alleged enforced disappearance of Mr. Gurumayum. So far the family of the victim has received no further information concerning the victim.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 is one of the worst laws in Indian history. This Act grants extra ordinary powers to the armed forces stationed in places declared as 'disturbed area' by the government. It is widely argued that since the implementation of this law in states like Manipur, Assam, Nagaland, Thripura and Jammu and Kashmir, the number of cases of disappearances, extrajudicial executions, and other forms of human rights abuses including but not limited to torture and rape have increased. At the moment, the law is operative in large areas in Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir states. After the enactment of this act the cases of arbitrary killings, torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and enforced disappearance has been increased. But most of these cases go unreported. The government dies not follow-up those cases that get reported. This has created a climate of fear and impunity in the areas where the Act is implemented.

The National Human Rights Commission, Supreme Court of India and Commissions appointed by the Government of India, all have reiterated this fact and expressed shock and discontentment in the manner in which state institutions like the police, the military and paramilitary units stationed in Manipur and Jammu Kashmir undertake their operational mandate. The government of India and the state administrations of Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir have been directed to enforce discipline within the state police, military and paramilitary units stationed in these two states as an essential precondition for any dialogue for sustainable peace. But unfortunately, neither the state nor the centre bothered to do anything to prevent the violence committed by the law enforcement agencies in these states.

An analysis of the Act by the ALRC, Redress and Human Rights Alert titled "Sanctioning Repression in Violation of India's Human Rights Obligations : The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 in Manipur and Other States of Northeast of India" speaks about the incompatibility of this draconian law with human rights standards.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write to the authorities listed below asking for their urgent intervention in this case. The AHRC will also write to the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances for an intervention in the case.

To support this appeal, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

INDIA: Suspected case of enforced disappearance of a person from Dimapur, Nagaland must be investigated

Name of victim: Mr. Gurumayum Jiteshwor alias G.M. Changjou, aged 49 years, son of Mr Gurumayum Goshai Sharma, resident of Khwai Nagamapal Singjubung Leirak, under Lamphel Police Station, Imphal West District 795001 Manipur
Alleged perpetrators: Officers associated with the Assam Rifles and private individuals reportedly associated with Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland - Isaac Muivah (NSCN-IM)
Date of incident: 18 August 2011
Place of incident: Duncan Basti, Dimapur, Nagaland

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the case of suspected enforced disappearance of Mr Gurumayum Jiteshwor alias G.M. Changjou from Dimapur, Nagaland state since 18 August 2011.

It is reported that officers from the Assam Rifles, an Indian Paramilitary Unit and persons associated with the NSCN-IM abducted the victim on 18 August at about 7.00 pm from his residence located at Duncan Basti in Dimapur. Dimapur is a city in Nagaland state. At the time of arrest, the victim was not informed why he was taken into custody, or where he will be taken. Neither were any relatives of the victim informed about the arrest.

Since then the family does not know the whereabouts of the victim. It is reported that the family was also not informed whether the victim would be produced in a court as required by the law or handed over to the civilian police within the time prescribed in law. The NSCN is a political entity operating in the Northeastern states of India, in particular, Manipur and Nagaland. They do not have any legal mandate to maintain law and order. NSCN is a political outfit, formerly fighting against the government, and now after negotiations with the government, reported to be working with the state security agencies.

It is reported that two Manipuri speaking unidentified persons in civilian clothes came into the residence of the victim at Dimapur. After a brief conversation, the two persons forced the victim, Gurumayum to go along with them. Soon an altercation erupted between the victim and his two visitors. It is reported that the two persons assaulted the victim. It is also reported that one of the persons tried holding a pistol at the victim's back to threaten and subdue him. Other persons, who were waiting outside the house, also in civilian cloths, joined them. When the victim was dragged away officers from the Assam Rifles in uniform joined them.

The family of the victim alleges that those who came inside the house also took away valuables from the house, including gold ornaments, for which no seizure memo was prepared. It is reported that neither the victim nor his family members were informed why the victim was taken into custody and where he is taken to at the time of arrest. On the next day morning at about 10.05 am the victim has reportedly sent a text message through his mobile telephone informing his family that the persons who took him into custody were from the Assam Rifles and the NSCM-IM. There was a subsequent message by around 3.05 pm on the same day from the mobile telephone of the victim. But the sending and receiving of the text messages need to be further verified since it is not certain who have sent the message. When the family later tried to reach the victim over his mobile telephone, the phone was switched off. Since then they had no further contact with the victim.

On 20 August, Ms Gurumayum Radha Devi, the victim's mother filed a missing person's complaint at the office of the Director General of Police (DGP) in Manipur state. The complaint reportedly narrates the circumstances in which the victim was taken into custody and about the text messages. The complaint sought the state government of Manipur to help in the case of her missing son, who was taken into custody by the Assam Rifles, the day before in neighbouring Nagaland. It is reported that the neither the police nor the state government have taken any credible or prompt actions upon the complaint. A subsequent complaint was also filed at Dimapur West Police Station, Nagaland. None of these complaints are reportedly registered as cases either at Manipur or at Nagaland.

Since then, the authorities in Nagaland and Manipur have not responded to the alleged enforced disappearance of Mr. Gurumayum. So far the family of the victim has received no further information concerning the victim.

I therefore urge you to take the following actions in the case:
1. That the complaint filed by the mother of the victim is registered;
2. The police record the statement of the victim's immediate relatives, like his wife, who might have probably witnessed the abduction;
3. The government to direct the Assam Rifles to disclose whether they have the custody of the victim;
4. That the victim's family be informed about the progress of the investigation in the case.

Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Neiphiu Rio
Chief Minister
Government of Nagaland
Secretariat, Kohima, Nagaland
INDIA
Fax: + 91 389 2322245
Email: cmngl@nic.in

2. Mr. Okram Ibobi Singh
Chief Minister of Manipur
Secretariat, Babupara, Imphal, 795001
Manipur
INDIA
Fax: + 91 385 2451817, + 91 385 2451817
Email: cmmani@hub.nic.in, cmmani@man.nic.in

3. Director General of Police
Government of Nagaland
Police Head Quarters
P.R Hills, Kohima, Nagaland
INDIA
Email: scrb-ngl@nic.in / scrbpnaga@yahoo.com

4. Superintendent of Police
Government of Nagaland
Dimapur, Nagaland
INDIA
Email: spdmp-ngl@mail.nagaland.nic.in, dimapurcops@yahoo.com

5. Deputy Commissioner
Government of Nagaland
Dimapur, Nagaland
INDIA
Email: dcdmp-ngl@mail.nic.in

6. Mr. P. Chidambaram
Home Minister
Government of India
Ministry of Home Affairs
North Block, New Delhi 110003
INDIA
Fax: + 91 11 23093750 / 23092763
Email: hm@nic.in


Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)


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