Manipur ethnic violence: 30 people go missing, SC says "breakdown of constitutional machinery"text_fields
Imphal: In Manipur, at least 30 people have gone missing since ethnic violence erupted in May, leaving families distraught and fearing the worst. As the number of missing persons continues to rise, the situation has raised concerns among authorities and the Supreme Court.
Among those missing is 47-year-old Atom Samarendra Singh, a journalist, researcher, and social worker, who went missing on May 6 in the early days of the massive violence. Singh's friend, 48-year-old Yumkhaibam Kirankumar Singh, who was with him on that day, also remains unaccounted for. The two had driven to the Saheibung area, adjacent to the Manipur Olympic Park, bordering the foothills of Kangpokpi district. Their cell phones are switched off, making them untraceable, reported NDTV.
Since ethnic violence erupted, the number of missing complaints and un-numbered First Information Reports (FIRs) have been escalating, leading to concerns that the actual number of missing persons could grow significantly.
In another tragic incident on July 6, 17-year-old Hijam Luwangbi Linthoingambi and her boyfriend, 17-year-old Phijam Hemanjit, disappeared. The young couple ventured out during the relaxed curfew hours, hoping for a safe ride. Their parents have filed complaints at two separate police stations. CCTV footage confirmed they were last seen heading towards the Nambol area in Imphal Valley. "Cybercrime police reports that her phone was last switched off at Kwakta, and the boy's phone got switched off at Lamdan," Hijam Kullajit, father of the missing girl, shared.
Despite families filing missing complaints, police searches have not yielded success. There are around 6,523 Zero FIRs, indicating the scale of the problem. There have been reports of 44 dead bodies of missing individuals in the morgues of Imphal hospitals. A mass burial has been planned on August 3 to address the issue.
In response to the growing concerns and slow investigation, the Supreme Court has expressed its anguish over the state's response and the lack of progress in addressing the issue. Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud condemned the "tardy" and "lethargic" investigation, noting delays in filing FIRs and recording statements. The court has demanded the personal presence of the Manipur Director General of Police during the next hearing on Monday.
When CJI Chandrachud asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta whether the policemen accused of handing over the women to the mob have been interrogated, Mehta said it may not be possible to get information overnight. He also did not have answers to whether any arrests have been made.
"There has been a delay in filing FIRs, no arrests. For the past two months, has the situation not been conducive for even recording the statements of the victims. The state police are incapable of investigation. They have lost control. There is absolutely no law and order... There has been an absolute breakdown of constitutional machinery in Manipur for the past two months," said the CJI with anger.