Rape probe panel readies for victims' hearing (INDIA)
Imphal/Aizawl, April 20: The Justice S.P. Rajkhowa commission inquiring into the alleged mass rape of tribal women by militants in Manipur's Churachandpur district today left for Parbung, where the panel will record the statements of the alleged victims.
"We deeply appreciate the many expressions of condemnation for the unspeakable horror and repression meted out to our hapless people by the so-called 'freedom fighters' of our Sanaleipak, as well as support that has poured in from our brothers and sisters, our kindred tribes in Manipur and elsewhere," the Hmar Inpui (Hmar Main House) said, in reference to the rape and the laying of landmines.
The panel, comprising four members, left by an Indian Air Force chopper.
The team was supposed to leave on Tuesday, but the trip was deferred owing to inclement weather. The team will hold sittings at Parbung to record the statements of the alleged victims till April 24.
Official sources said elaborate security measures were taken by the army and the state police at Parbung and nearby Lungthulien village, where the Hmar tribal women were allegedly raped on the night of January 16. The militant United National Liberation Front and the Kangleipak Communist Party have been accused in the case.
Parbung police registered cases on the alleged mass rape following complaints lodged by the villagers. The cases listed names of 15 "rape victims".
NGOs from the district, however, alleged that the militants raped 21 women, including minors.
The panel could not entertain a demand by some Imphal-based NGOs to hold the sittings at the district headquarters in view of the security situation in the interior areas. "We are ready to hold the sittings in the district headquarters. But there are strong demands from tribal organisations that the sittings should be held at Parbung to facilitate all the victims to come forward and give their statements to the commission," Justice Rajkhowa said.
Parbung, in Tipaimukh subdivision, is about 300 km from Imphal.
In a statement issued yesterday, the Hmar Inpui (Hmar Main House) condemned the rape and demanded a transparent probe into the incident, adds our correspondent from Aizawl.
"We deeply appreciate the many expressions of condemnation for the unspeakable horror and repression meted out to our hapless people by the so-called 'freedom fighters' of our Sanaleipak, as well as support that has poured in from our brothers and sisters, our kindred tribes in Manipur and elsewhere," the group said, in reference to the rape and the laying of landmines.
The Hmar Inpui also thanked the Mizoram government for looking after the thousand-odd Hmars who had fled Manipur following atrocities by militants.
"The Hmar Inpui unequivocally stands for the integrity of the country and the maintenance of a secure environment where all communities co-exist in peace and harmony. It bears no grudge against any community. It deplores any form of violation of human rights. It appeals to all communities to condemn those who committed the crimes mentioned above and bring pressure on these lumpen elements to stop endangering the atmosphere of communal harmony," the release said.
Von: 21.04.2006, http://www.telegraphindia.com