“I was a witness to large number of fake encounters in Manipur during the period 2003 to 2009. All these fake encounters were done on the direct orders of the superior officers.” Thounaojam Herojit Singh
“I was a witness to large number of fake encounters in Manipur during the period 2003 to 2009. All these fake encounters were done on the direct orders of the superior officers.” These are the opening lines of the affidavit that Thounaojam Herojit Singh – Manipur’s self-confessed killer cop – filed in the Supreme Court.
Herojit was a head constable with the Manipur police and in the period of 2003 to 2009, he says he witnessed – and carried out – extra judicial killings in the state. He also says he kept a written record of those killings.
“I maintained in my own hand 3-4 diaries of these fake encounters in which I made entries serial-wise of (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,” says his affidavit.
Related: Herojit appears before Court
But Herojit says these diaries were taken from him during a raid by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in 2010. He says this was done in front of his family, after which the CBI repeatedly called him in for questioning about the details in his diaries.
Herojit came from Manipur to the Supreme Court to tell the judges: “I believe that the CBI will destroy or suppress these diaries.”
He wants the court to direct the CBI to produce those diaries before it.
Herojit’s affidavit comes as an intervention in the ongoing public interest litigation regarding 1528 cases of alleged fake encounters in Manipur. On July 8, 2016, the Supreme Court passed a landmark order which said that Indian army and paramilitary personnel cannot use “excessive and retaliatory” force in Manipur. For decades, the Indian army has had immunity for acts of violence, finding protection under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). The ongoing litigation challenges this.
In court on Monday, Herojit sat quietly at the back while military personnel, both in uniform and in plain clothes, sat a few rows ahead of him.
While Manipur has seen 1,528 cases of alleged fake encounters, none of these has resulted in any punishment.
Herojit’s story, which he has now spoken about in at least three media interviews, is a departure from the code of silence regarding violent crimes committed by security forces in India’s “disturbed areas.”
With only victims and no perpetrators, the Extra-Judicial Execution Victim Families Association (EEVFAM) has been trying to gather documents on the 1528 cases, which they then submitted to the Supreme Court.
Herojit’s diaries, if submitted by the CBI, could add to the reams of documents collected by the petitioners, for further investigation.
His prayers to the court were that the CBI be directed to produce these diaries, and that they subsequently be kept in the safe custody of the court. He also said that he has been wanting to record his testimony before the CBI, but “it appears that the CBI is interested in hushing up the whole matter.”