“On January 21, 2010, we were having dinner with the entire family. At around 8 o’clock, security personnel forcibly entered my house. They vandalized my house, threw my possessions on the floor and even took some of my gold. They also took my husband outside the house and into the dark. After a while, much to my horror, I heard gunshots in the distance.
The next morning, our family went to the local police station. My husband had been killed. He had more than 20 bullets in his body. However, he wasn’t wearing the clothes that he was wearing the previous day. Instead, his body had been dressed up in a combat uniform. The uniform had no bullet holes. Only his body did. The uniform had clearly been put on after he was shot and killed.
I went to the station to demand answers, and in protest, I didn’t claim his body for five days. I wanted them to admit to what they did to my husband. But after a while, I had to relent. We buried him on January 26, 2010.
I met the then Chief Minister, Okram Ibobi Singh. I had four children to support and I got a compensation of only one lakh. He didn’t even give me a job.
I felt such a strong sense of shock and trauma. I had to seek medical help. Since that day, I constantly feel paranoid and scared. Every time I see a man in a military uniform, the trauma comes back. But, I decided to keep fighting the case, no matter what.
In 2012, my husband’s case was transferred to the Crime Branch in Imphal. It was later taken up in the High Court of Manipur. Once the case reached this stage, security personnel started coming to our house. They would tell me that they had made a mistake and asked me to withdraw the case. They said that they would provide for all my economic needs. I refused to accept any of their bribes.
After my husband’s death, I joined Extra-Judicial Execution Victim Families Association (EEVFAM). I know there are many others who are in a situation that is very similar to mine. I want to help them. I am now EEVFAM’s coordinator for Thoubal district. I document cases of extrajudicial executions in my district and provide support to families of victims.
On April 7, 2018, I was supposed to give a statement regarding my husband’s case. The same morning, a big group of security personnel came to my house. They forcibly entered my house and threw my belongings on the floor. They threatened me and said that they had been watching me. They even took my picture. But I told them, ‘Don’t threaten me. I’m not just a helpless widow. I’m a Human Rights Defender. You have no idea what I can do.’
I believe that they attacked and threatened me because I’m a Human Rights Defender. This violence that is unfolding in Manipur should stop. No one else should be affected and it should never be repeated. The security personnel who misuse their powers should be punished and the government should take action. We deserve justice. I will continue to fight for it.”
Salima is a resident of Thoubal district, Manipur. She is a Human Rights Defender from the Extra-Judicial Execution Victim Families Association, Manipur (EEVFAM).
A Human Rights Defender from Manipur, Salima Memcha, 38, narrated this testimony to a researcher from Amnesty International India. Monika Khangembam, a Human Rights Defender from Imphal, Manipur, translated Salima’s account from Meiteilon to English.
Story By – Salima Memcha | Human Rights Defender
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