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Manipur government’s inaction on NSCN (I-M)’s death threats to 4 RTI activists draws flak

FILE PHOTO: Wahengbam Joykumar

Johnson Samo, SP Benjamin, Kh Inoch and PR Amose are reportedly facing death threats from NSCN (I-M) for filing RTI applications in connection with funds released by government for development works in Senapati autonomous district council

TFM News Service

National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI) has slammed the state government for its failure to arrest NSCN (I-M) cadre, who had intimidated four Right to Information (RTI) activists for seeking information in connection with development fund released by the state government. It questioned why the Manipur government is hesitant in taking action against the NSCN (I-M), which is operating in the state not bound by ceasefire agreement.

Addressing a press meet at Manipur Press Club in Imphal on Wednesday in connection with death threats to RTI activists, NCPRI working committee member Wahengbam Joykumar said in 2020, Johnson Samo, SP Benjamin, Kh Inoch and PR Amose filed RTI applications in connection with funds released by government for development works in Senapati autonomous district council. Later NSCN(I-M) threatened to kill the four RTI activists if they did not withdraw the applications. The death threats was received from NSCN (I-M)’s Shepoumaramth Region leaders KV Sounii, Puni Mao and Rotter. Following the death threats, the four RTI activists have been taking refuge in Imphal.

Joykumar said they lodged a complaint with National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on the issue. After the central government informed it on May 15 that ceasefire between NSCN (I-M) and government of India does not cover Manipur, NHRC transferred the complaint to Manipur Human Rights Commission (MHRC), he added.

However, when MHRC directed Manipur government’s Home Department for necessary action, it washed its hands off saying that issues concerning NSCN(I-M) should be dealt by the central government, said Joykumar. The state government has been claiming that NSCN (I-M)’s cease fire agreement with India Government is not extended to Manipur. Despite this, it is putting the ball in the central government’s court, he said.

Welcoming MHRC’s order to the state government to make arrangement for safe and secured stay of RTI activists facing death threats within two weeks, Joykumar urged the civil society organizations to extend supports to people who are facing threats for exposing misappropriation of funds in Hills.

Joykumar further said providing them safe location by the state government will not end the issue untill NSCN (I-M) Shepoumaramth Region’s leaders are arrested. As there are reports that NSCN (I-M) has town commanders in Valley, RTI activists taking shelters in Imphal fear for lives, he added. He expressed displeasure at government’s failure to take action against criminals threatening to RTI activists’ lives.

Murder and death threats to RTI users in India are not new. Manipur is also witnessing the same situation. NSCN(I-M) is intimidating and making death threats to those who file RTI in Hills. Though ceasefire does not cover Manipur, NSCN (I-M) has brigades with over 200 cadres in Chandel, Senapati, Ukhrul and Tamenglong districts, he alleged.

He lamented that the state government is sitting idle while NSCN (I-M) is resorting to threats, extortions and loot from the people in Manipur. He urged the state government to deal with an iron hand against them by roping in Central forces and Assam Rifles.

He said that NSCN (I-M), which claims to be fighting for Naga’s cause, plays hindrance to development works in Senapati district predominantly settled by Nagas. 

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