Civilian's killing by army in Arunachal Pradesh
The mortal remains of the deceased being laid to rest. Image credit - Northeast Now

Longding district’s judicial magistrate first class (JMFC) has denied reports of a judicial probe being conducted into the case of a civilian allegedly shot dead by security personnel in Pumao village.

The reaction from JMFC comes 18 days after the incident took place at Pumao village in Longding district.

One Lamdan Lukham, 60, had died on the spot while several others sustained minor injuries after army personnel allegedly fired upon the civilians at Pumao village on May 16.

Also read: Army kills civilian at Longding in Arunachal Pradesh

The army has, however, denied the allegations and said the firing took place in retaliation during a search operation after it had intelligence inputs regarding movement and activities of NSCN (IM) cadres in the district.

Following the incident, Longding deputy commissioner Chesta Yadav and the state’s director general of police RP Upadhyaya stated that a judicial enquiry had been ordered in the case.

Longding JMFC Epi Kapu, when contacted, said she denied carrying out any investigation as the order has to come from a High Court to her for conducting a judicial enquiry.

“I had received an order from the Longding district magistrate (DM) for conducting a judicial enquiry into the case, however, I clearly denied the same and also passed an order stating that I am not a subordinate to the DM. I can only carry out the enquiry if there was a direction from the High Court,” Kapu said.

Kapu said she was surprised to see media reports the next day of the incident which stated that an enquiry by the Longding JMFC had been ordered in the case.

Kapu, however, said she had visited the Pumao village after the incident took place but that was an unofficial visit and to carry out an enquiry.

“There must be a misconception which has led to this. I was there at the place of occurrence so the people might have thought that I would be looking into the case,” she said.

Kapu further said the FIR which was registered by the police has been received by the court.

DGP Upadhyaya, when contacted, said normally a judicial enquiry is initiated in such cases.

“The police have no part in matters regarding the judicial enquiry as it is the deputy commissioner, who has to take a call. If it has not been done yet then the matter is normally taken through the chief secretary and home commissioner,” the DGP said.

Calls made to deputy commissioner Yadav were not answered.

Pongngoi Joham, the president of Wancho Students’ Union (WSU) said the people of the district, especially the Wancho community were under the impression that the case was being investigated by the JMFC and they were hoping that justice would be delivered soon to the victim’s family.

“After 18 long days, we have come to know that no judicial enquiry is being carried out in the case. This is a sad development and we never expected that the case would be taken so lightly. I don’t understand where the confusion is,” Joham said.

The student leader said talks are on with the Wancho Council, the apex body of the Wancho community, to send a strong condemnation on the same.

The National Human Right Commission (NHRC) has, meanwhile, sought details of the case from the Longding superintendent of police and Defence Ministry.

Responding to the complaint filed by one Buteng Tayeng, the state affairs secretary of North East Human Rights Organisation (NEHRO), the NHRC has asked the Longding SP and secretary, ministry of defence to submit the details and findings of the case to the Commission within four weeks.

“If the report is not received within the stipulated time, the Commission shall be constrained to invoke coercive process under section 13 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 for the personal appearance of the concerned authority,” the NHRC said in its notice.

Longding Police chief BR Reddy said he is yet to receive the Commission’s notice.

“The details of the case will be submitted accordingly once we receive the notice,” he said.

In regards to the case, Reddy said: “Investigation is on and there are no major developments.”

DAMIEN LEPCHA

Damien Lepcha is Northeast Now Correspondent in Arunachal Pradesh. He can be reached at: lepcharaul@gmail.com