The human rights watchdog strongly condemned the arbitrary detention, judicial harassment, and acts of ill-treatment against Shintha, which it said seemed to be aimed at punishing him for his human rights peaceful and legitimate human rights activities
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders has made an urgent appeal to the Government of India regarding the safeguard of Laishram Herojit (also known as Shintha) and other human rights defenders in the country.
The Observatory urged the authorities to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Shintha and put an end to all acts of harassment against all human rights defenders in the country.
It pleaded for a guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Laishram Herojit Singh and all human rights defenders in India, and also to guarantee his right to due process and fair trial.
The Observatory also demanded to put an end to all acts of harassment – including at the judicial level – against Laishram Herojit Singh and all other human rights defenders in India, and ensure that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals in all circumstances.
Immediately put an end to the use of repressive laws, including the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), to target human rights defenders and ensure its compliance with international human rights standards, it further demanded.
The urgent appeal by the Geneva-Paris based human rights watchdog was addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde, chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of India HL Dattu, Focal Point on Human Rights Defenders, National Human Rights Commission of India Debindra Kundra, Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland ambassador Rajiv Kumar Chander, amongst others.
The Observatory stated that it has been informed about the arbitrary detention, subsequent release on bail, and ongoing judicial harassment of Laishram Herojit Singh, a human rights defender working on the promotion of the right to health and the secretary general of the Coalition Against Drug and Alcohol (CADA), in Thoubal District, Manipur.
On April 7, 2021, at 2 pm, a group of around 18 policemen from the Thoubal Police Station arbitrarily arrested Shintha at his home in Thoubal District, without producing a warrant and in the presence of his parents and neighbor, it said.
Shintha was subsequently taken to the Thoubal Police Station, where he was hit in the face by the police inspector, after he refused to sign the arrest memo. The document falsely stated that Shintha was a member of the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), it added.
On April 8, 2021, Shintha appeared before the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate of Thoubal and was charged under Section 39 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) on the basis of a First Information Report (FIR) lodged by the Thoubal police.
The FIR alleged that Shintha was arrested in Wangjing, Thoubal District, where he was accused of carrying out operations as an over ground worker for the UNLF. Shintha denied the accusations and was subsequently remanded to police custody for four days. On April 12, 2021, Shintha was released on bail pending trial.
The Observatory underlined that four hours before his arrest on April 7, Shintha had attended a peaceful gathering organised by CADA to protest against the recent acquittal of the former chairman of the Autonomous District Council of Moreh, who had been arrested in 2018 in connection with a drug haul case.
The Observatory strongly condemned the arbitrary detention, judicial harassment, and acts of ill-treatment against Shintha, which it said seemed to be aimed at punishing him for his human rights peaceful and legitimate human rights activities.
The Observatory reiterated its concern over the misuse of the UAPA by the Indian authorities to target human rights defenders and silence dissent, and condemned all acts of harassment and persecution of human rights defenders in India.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH). The objective of the programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.