Life under AFSPA

Violence, fear, uncertainty characterizes the states of North-East India and Jammu & Kashmir. Life under AFSPA is unimaginable and as these stories will tell, we may not even want to imagine them. But the truth is that these stories are not extra-ordinary, they are the everyday stories of torture in these AFSPA-imposed states. Here are some AFSPA stories.


A mentally-disabled was their "suspect"
VICTIM: Jano, son of Punshi
INCIDENTS: Illegal arrest, arbitrary detention & torture
DATE: 16 July 2006
PLACE: Ward 7, Moreh (Manipur)

Mani Thombi, mother of Jano: The army came to our house past midnight of July 16. There were about 100 soldiers. They surrounded our house and knocked at our door, which I opened. They searched the house but could not find anything. My son was sleeping in the room which is open to the front veranda; it has no door. He woke up and was asked to step out of the room. Then one army officer came out with a grenade in his hand and asked my son in Hindi what it was. In fact, he did not know what it was. He also can not speak Hindi, but my elder daughter can. She said to the army officer that it it appears to be a grenade that you might have brought along with you while you came and now want to use to implicate my brother.
The army had come with a list of names which they claimed was the list of suspects in the locality. I said to the army officer that there is another person in the locality with the same name as my son and informed him that it might be that person whom they were looking for. However, the officers did not listen.
My son was crying from fear and they did not understand that my son could not even speak sensibly since he is mentally disabled due to a fall from a tree when he was a child. He hugged me by my waist and cried loud. The army officer kicked my son on his back and it hurt him. He also has a problem with his walking. So they dragged him away. I tried to follow him. I was recovering from surgery and had a pain in my waist. When I tried following an officer kicked me there. The pain was unbearable. However, I could not stay back since my son¡¦s life was at stake. I cried aloud and shouted at the officers saying that they were making a terrible mistake by taking my poor son away. I saw them throwing my son into the army vehicle.
I could not keep quiet. I ran around waking up people and urged them to follow the army vehicles to wherever it went. While doing this I forgot the pain in my waist. I managed to get to the Mairaphabi (women's organisation). By that time I had a severe pain in my right shoulder. I was also scared to chase the army vehicles alone. So I had to wait until it was daybreak to continue.
At morning we gathered together in front of the police station. By about 4pm my son, along with many others whom I was informed were also arrested during the night, were brought to the police station. I could see that my son had been brutally tortured. He was shown to a doctor who advised that he be given more medical treatment. However the police refused to provide any.
 As a mother I cannot forget the look in my son's eyes when he was brought to the police station. I also cannot forget the way he tried to hug me when he was pulled away from me by the army. I cannot forget the officer who kicked my son and me. However, to whom shall we complain about all this? The police are equally helpless. To the army or to the government who sent the army here? Or to the insurgents? Every day here is uncertain. You can never be sure about tomorrow.

"I have no words to define how i feel"
VICTIM: Soibam Mithun, 23, son of Soibam Samu
INCIDENTS: Illegal arrest, arbitrary detention & torture
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: 24 Assam Rifles personnel
DATES: 21-22 July 2006
PLACE: Ward 7, Moreh (Manipur)
I came here to give tuition to children as I finished 12th grade. On the night of July 21-22 I opened the door, hearing someone outside. I wanted to go out but my brother and mother held me back. Then an army officer stepped into the light. He asked all of us to step outside. As we came out, soldiers poured into the house. We were told to stay with our hands raised while one pointed his rifle at us. The officers who went inside came out with some CDs. An arrest memo was produced. I did not see anyone preparing it. However, my name was on the memo and the underground organisation UNLF was also mentioned. I was beaten up and put into the army vehicle. My brother and mother protested, but no one heard them and an officer threatened that if they made more noise then they would take my brother too. Still my brother did not stop shouting, but my mother was so scared that she held her palm across my brother¡¦s mouth to keep him silent. I was thrown into the army vehicle.
I was taken to the 24 Assam Rifles camp in a Gypsy (an SUV commonly by the army). On our way to the camp we did not stop at the police station. At the army camp I was blindfolded and taken to a room. My legs and hands were tied. I was told to lie face up on a wooden cot. My legs were stretched and my underwear was removed. A wire was fixed to my testicles and they applied electric shocks. I had not suffered anything like that in the past. They hit me on the back of my head with a rifle butt. They accused me of being a UNLF cadre. I told them that I am not. The more I said that I am not connected with any organisation and that I was making a living by private tuition, the more they hit me and applied electric shocks. For a moment my blindfold was removed and I also saw others like me in the same room being tortured in a similar manner.
The interrogation continued for about a few hours, until 4am. Later I was told to have some tea, but when the tea was brought they poured it onto my thigh: the scar is still there. In the morning I was told to sit in the sun and made to eat chilies. They also sprayed chili powder in my eyes. I could not urinate and they gave me some tablets, which they forced me to take and drink a lot of water. Still I could not urinate. Then an officer came and threatened me again. He asked lot of questions about whether I was associated with the UNLF. I repeated that I was not. They asked me, Who fired the shells? Who killed the Subedar [an army rank]? I said that I was in Imphal during the time of that incident, but they thought that I was lying.
At about 4pm I was blindfolded again. When the blindfold was removed I found that I was at the police station. I stayed there for a day and the next day was taken to Imphal where I was produced at the Chief Judicial Magistrate's Court. I was remanded till the 27th and then was again produced before the court and released on bail the same day. In between I was interrogated at the Imphal police station and Kangla police station. I said that, Whether you torture me or not, I don't have anything to say. I was not tortured much at the police station. I have a friend at Kangla police station and because of him I was not tortured at all there.
I have no words how to explain how I feel now. It is very difficult to put in words. One has to go through it to understand it. I am so scared of the army that I do not feel comfortable when an army person is travelling in the same bus with me. I find it difficult to go out of my house since on the road you meet soldiers. I still have problems with my testicles and to urinate. I am still undergoing treatment.
I do not think that I can live here anymore. I do not know what to do now. I want to finish my life.

Tortured in old wounds
VICTIM: Namoijam Chothoi, 28, son of Bibison
INCIDENTS: Illegal arrest, arbitrary detention & torture
DATE: 17 July 2006
PLACE: Thoubal

Bibison, father: My son was arrested on 17 July 2006. The army came to our house and knocked at our door. I told them that I could not open the door unless they told me who they were and who they were looking for. My son had been abducted by underground forces a few weeks before and I was scared that they would come for him again. They replied that they were army so I starting opening the door; they did not wait but kicked it down and stormed into the house. They held a rifle to my head. I told them not to harm me or anyone inside the house. They got my son from his bed and took him out. He still had injuries from the assaults he had suffered at the hands of the underground movement people. He had bandages on his body. They started beating him in front of me. I pleaded with them not to beat my son but they did not listen. They dragged him into a vehicle in which they had come. When they were taking him I cried to them not to take him and hugged their legs. Then one officer hit me with a rifle butt. I fell down and they took my son.

I met my son at the Bishnupur Chief Judicial Magistrate's court on the 25th. Between the 17th and 25th I tried my best to find where my son was being held but I was not successful. When I met him at the court he told me that while he was dragged to the vehicle his bandages had fallen off from his wounds and later in the army camp the soldiers tortured him on his wounds. Now he is deaf in his right ear due to a severe injury from beating and slapping.

He is still in the custody of the police. I do not know when he will be released. I have contacted a lawyer who is the neighbour of one of my relatives. The lawyer has collected about 11000 rupees from us. To raise this money we had to sell our year's rice supply and also pawn our gold. The community also helped. The police officers at Moirang police station have also asked for money. The sub divisional police officer's staff informed us that unless we pay them 500 rupees each then they will not release my son.

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