Manipur’s once-dreaded encounter specialist, head constable Herojit Singh has now moved the Supreme Court with a sensational disclosure of many fake encounters in Manipur between 2003 and 2009”. Herojit Singh tells Supreme Court that he can help contribute to the investigation since he was “present at many of these fake encounters”.
Herojit, who has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court, has further alleged that “all of these fake encounters were carried out on the direct orders of the superior officers”.
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Herojit Singh was one of the main encounter specialists among Manipur commandos in those six years.
According to NHRC data, Manipur has the dubious distinction of the maximum number of fake encounters in 2008-09, only after Uttar Pradesh. Over six years after the killing of PLA militant Sanjit Meitei, Herojit Singh had first confessed on News18 in 2016, of killing Meitei. He went on record to say that he pumped bullets into the former PLA militant while acting on orders from his senior, the then Additional Superintendent of Police in Imphal.
Herojit had also claimed that the Manipur DGP and Chief Minister were in the know about the execution.
Commandos of Manipur Police were in July 2009 accused of killing Sanjit, who was shot dead on a busy road in Imphal, even after surrendering. The killing of the unarmed youth led to protests across the state.
Herojit now claims that after his tell-all interview in 2016, when he wanted to file an affidavit in the trial court regarding the same, “lawyers supposedly acting in my defence abandoned me saying that since I had given an affidavit to the trial court (in Imphal), they could not defend me. Apparently, the court appointed an amicus but it was not verified. In any case, I was never given a chance to appoint a lawyer of my choice and I went unrepresented.”
His affidavit in the Supreme Court that is up for hearing on Monday, further mentions that there was a plan to kill him and that he survived an assassination bid.
The affidavit says, “On 30.4.16 at 8.30 p.m. a TATA pickup truck without lights and number plate deliberately slammed into my car about a kilometer from my house with the intention of killing me. I was seriously injured with multiple fractures and had to take 38 stitches. I continued to pose a threat to all the officers who gave orders and routinely continued to give orders without hesitation and without reason for the extrajudicial executions of innocent citizens of India and this is why I fear that I will suffer the same fate. (sic)”
His affidavit is particularly harsh on the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), where he says in spite of asking the agency to record his fresh statements in front of the magistrate and “disclose the identity of the senior officers who had ordered the extrajudicial executions, the CBI seemed completely disinterested and wanting to cover up the crimes that have taken place.”
Also, one of the important prayers mentioned by Herojit is to recover the 3 or 4 diaries where he had made notes about all the fake encounters. By his own admission, he “made the entries serially”.
The incidents were noted down with the names of the victims, their addresses and other details in the following order: (i) the name of the victim (ii) his age (iii) parentage (iv) address (v) place of occurrence (vi) date of the killing or arrest (vii) remarks such as “killed” or “done” or “arrest” and (viii) the call sign code of the superior officer who gave the order to kill.
These diaries were seized by the CBI from Herojit’s government accommodation at the Manipur Police Commando Complex at Minuthong, Imphal in 2010. He now believes that “the CBI will destroy or suppress these diaries”.
“Hence, one of the reasons for my making of this affidavit is to ensure that these diaries are produced before this court. I am also making this affidavit to tell the Supreme Court that I can contribute to the investigation since I was present at many of these fake encounters in respect of which this court has asked for investigation.”
Babloo Loitongbam, the Executive Director of Human Rights Alert calls Herojit’s decision “brave and historic”. He added that the case will help in deconstructing the killing machine that the Manipur forces have become.
The Supreme Court had in July, ordered a CBI probe by a special investigating team (SIT) into the 98 fake encounter killings in Manipur over the last decade.
A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Uday U Lalit passed the order on a writ petition filed by the Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families Association (EEVFAM), who had alleged that there were 1,528 fake encounter deaths in Manipur in the past decade. The group further demanded an SIT probe.
The bench then asked the CBI director to nominate a group of five officers to go through the records of the cases, lodge necessary FIRs and complete the investigations into the same by December 31, 2017 apart from preparing the necessary charge sheets. The bench had then directed the CBI to probe into the 98 encounters and submit a report within the first week of January 2018.