The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) and its member in Manipur, Human Rights Alert (HRA), have expressed deep concern over the ‘militarisation of educational institutions’ in the state.
“The increased presence of the military in the already militarized State is seriously alarming. It is causing panic and security concerns with the local population,” Forum-Asia said
Manipur is a highly militarized zone due to the armed conflict for many decades now.
A number of draconian laws, such as the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 authorises armed forces to exercise lethal force and grants virtual immunity from prosecution.
Over a year ago, the Supreme Court of India tasked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to expedite its inquiry into several cases out of the 1,528 cases of alleged extra-judicial killings by security forces in Manipur.
“The CBI’s inaction, despite repeated orders from the Supreme Court, calls into question its impartiality and transparency,” the Forum Asia statement said.
” Central paramilitary forces are reportedly occupying educational institutions, including Dhanamanjuri University, Modern College and Maharaja Bodhchandra College,” it said.
” It is highly alarming that the local administration has once again authorised the stationing of armed forces in educational institutions and on other public premises.”
In September 2010, the Supreme Court directed the Indian Army and paramilitary forces to vacate all schools and hostels of educational institutions.
In 2014, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child urged the Government of India to abide by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, particularly the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, on this matter.
One of the recommendations of the UN Committee urged the Government to ‘take all necessary measures to prevent the occupation and use of as well as attacks on places with a significant presence of children, such as schools, in line with international humanitarian law’.
Another recommendation urged the Government ‘to ensure that schools are vacated expeditiously as appropriate, and to take concrete measures to ensure that cases of unlawful attacks on and/or occupation of schools are promptly investigated; and that perpetrators are prosecuted and punished.’
“The militarisation of educational institutions is a blatant violation of the Constitution of India; India’s international commitment to human rights in general and the rights of the child in particular; and core values of democracy,” said the statement of FORUM-ASIA and Human Rights Alert.
It urged urgent action on part of Manipur and Indian government-
* to comply with the Supreme Court’s directives, and recommendations from the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child
* immediately revoke the orders that permit paramilitary and armed forces to station inside educational institutions
* Initiate legal actions against the authorities, who ordered the deployment of the paramilitary and armed forces inside educational institutions
* Respect human rights standards and international humanitarian law in all its counter-insurgency and terrorism measures.
FORUM-ASIA is a regional human rights group with 81 member organisations in 21 countries across Asia.