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State responsible to provide basic amenities to Myanmar nationals in detention centre: Manipur HC

FILE PHOTO: HRA team with Myanmar national inmates at Saadbhavana Mandop, New Lamka, Churachandpur District in 2021.

The High Court of Manipur made the observation while hearing a PIL regarding the 29 Mayanmar nationals who were detained at a detention centre in Churachandpur.

TFM Desk

The High Court of Manipur on Thursday issued notice to the state in a Public Interest Litigation related to 29 Myanmar nationals who were detained at a detention centre in Churachandpur. The PIL was filed by Human Rights Alert executive director Babloo Loitongbam through his counsel M Rakesh, director of Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) on behalf of the 29 Myanmar Nationals. 

During the hearing of the matter, the court observed that the state is responsible to provide the basic amenities to the inmates, who are in the detention centre. The court issued notice to the respondent with a direction to file its reply affidavit on or before December 13, 2021.

On March 31, 2021, Manipur police personnel arrested 29 Myanmar nationals, including six minors, who were staying without valid documents, from Ngathal and Kawnpui villages of Churachandpur. After registering a criminal case under Section 14 of the Foreigners Act, they were produced before the jurisdictional Magistrate. Consequently, they were remanded into police custody till April 7, 2021, according to HRLN. 

In the meantime, the Government of Manipur notified the Sadbhavana Mandop, New Lamka, Churachandpur district as a detention centre and detained the Myanmar nationals there. At the detention centre, no food is being provided to the inmates by the jail authority. However, some philanthropic organisations catered necessary food to the inmates voluntarily, HRLN said and added, no doctors or nurses were also posted there to give medical assistance to the inmates. 

On June 6, 2021, a woman named Ma Myint expired due to COVID-19 and again on June 8, 2021, Mukhai also succumbed due to COVID infection. Another 13 more inmates of the detention centre were also found to be COVID-19 positive and they were shifted to a designated Covid Care Centre at Churachandpur Government College for treatment on June 7, 2021. Later they were shifted back to the Detention Centre on June 16, 2021. 

On July 2, 2021, Babloo Loitongbam approached the Manipur Human Rights Commission for looking into the matter and to ensure adequate nutritious food and regular medical attention to the inmates of the detention centre and to provide compensation to the next of kin of the two inmates, who expired due to COVID-19 while being detained in the detention centre.

However, HRLN said the commission failed to issue a concrete finding and recommendation till date. Being aggrieved by the inaction of the commission, the petitioner approached the High Court of Manipur by way of filing a Public Interest Litigation. 

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