INDIA: Harassment and detention of students and professors of Manipur University

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-046-2018
ISSUES: Freedom of assembly, Freedom of expression, Police violence,

Dear Friends,
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from Human Rights Alert, Manipur regarding the continued harassment and detention of the students of Manipur University.

CASE NARRATIVE:

There has been no rest at Manipur University since the Ministry of Human Resource Development appointed its new Vice-Chancellor in October 2016. After inquiry, he was suspended. In the meantime, he had appointed a Pro-Vice Chancellor which led to student protests against him.

After three months of agitation, the semester examinations were being conducted at Manipur University. On 20 September 2018, a small group of students on campus gathered to discuss the Pro-Vice Chancellor’s bid to take over as the Chancellor. However, the police dispersed the gathering, making the students flee.

At around 12:15 after midnight of 21 September 2018, the students were shocked to see a large number of security force officials walking inside their hostels in search of the office bearers of the Manipur University Students’ Union. They even entered the girls’ hostel. This led to panic and chaos, as the security force destroyed hostel properties such as doors and windows.

The students in the hostel resisted the entry of the forces into their hostels and it was later learnt that the Pro-Vice Chancellor provided permission for the same. The security force resorted to using tear gas shells, mock bombs and even live bullets. Some students were even subject to torture and degrading treatment.

Panic stricken students soon gathered near the traffic island of Manipur University, where, yet again, another round of tear gas shells were used in order to disperse the crowd. This caused the students to run inside their hostel campus. Another round of searching was carried out at the Boys’ Hostel by the security forces at around 3:30 a.m.

The police action continued until early in the morning, and in the meantime, the students were not allowed to buy medicine or seek medical attention for the injuries that they had sustained during the scuffle. Ambulances were only allowed inside the campus after 2 p.m.

According to local reports, around 89 students and 6 professors were taken and detained by the police. Now six professors and seven student leaders remain in judicial custody in the police station.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

According to reports, the police later blocked the entry of students and professors inside the campus. The police also announced the suspension of mobile internet services on campus to let the situation improve.

A 48-hour bandh was also called by the All Manipur Student Union (AMSU), Manipuri Student Federation (MSF), Kangleipak Student Association (KSA), SUK, DESAM, along with the support of other organisations. The Manipur Teachers’ Association (MUTA) has also stated that they will only sit down to resolve their month-long agitation after the teachers and students are unconditionally released.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

The AHRC calls for quick and stringent action by the Government of India as well as the State Government of Manipur against the police personnel who have used brutal force against the students. The AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.

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SAMPLE LETTER

Dear ___________, INDIA: Continued ill treatment of students and professors of Manipur University Name of victim/s: Students and professors Names of alleged perpetrators: Manipur Police and Indian Army Personnel. Date of incident: 21 September 2018 Place of incident: Manipur, India I am writing to express my deep concern regarding the recent report of detainment, harassment and violence against the students of Manipal University as well as the professors. There has been no rest at Manipur University since the Ministry of Human Resource Development appointed its new Vice-Chancellor in October 2016. After inquiry, he was suspended. In the meantime, he had appointed a Pro-Vice Chancellor which led to student protests against him. After three months of agitation, the semester examinations were being conducted at Manipur University. On 20 September 2018, a small group of students on campus gathered to discuss the Pro-Vice Chancellor’s bid to take over as the Chancellor. However, the police dispersed the gathering, making the students flee. At around 12:15 after midnight of 21 September 2018, the students were shocked to see a large number of security force officials walking inside their hostels in search of the office bearers of the Manipur University Students’ Union. They even entered the girls’ hostel. This led to panic and chaos, as the security force destroyed hostel properties such as doors and windows. The students in the hostel resisted the entry of the forces into their hostels and it was later learnt that the Pro-Vice Chancellor provided permission for the same. The security force resorted to using tear gas shells, mock bombs and even live bullets. Some students were even subject to torture and degrading treatment. Panic stricken students soon gathered near the traffic island of Manipur University, where, yet again, another round of tear gas shells were used in order to disperse the crowd. This caused the students to run inside their hostel campus. Another round of searching was carried out at the Boys’ Hostel by the security forces at around 3:30 a.m. The police action continued until early in the morning, and in the meantime, the students were not allowed to buy medicine or seek medical attention for the injuries that they had sustained during the scuffle. Ambulances were only allowed inside the campus after 2 p.m. According to local reports, around 89 students and 6 professors were taken and detained by the police. Now six professors and seven student leaders remain in judicial custody in the police station. I request the Government of India and the state government in Manipur to take action against the uncalled-for use of force against students. Those police personnel who have injured the students must be suspended immediately and due action should be taken against them. There should be no arbitrary detention of students and professors. Their fundamental rights should be safeguarded and they should not be threatened when exercising their rights of freedom of expression and of assembly. There cannot be arbitrary curtailing of the same. The Government of India must take a decision on the grievance of the students regarding the Pro-Vice Chancellor. The demands of the students must be given due regard and the Government should, at the earliest, resolve their grievances and ensure that all the professors and students are released from detention.  Yours Sincerely, ………………. PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO: 1. Mr. L.M. Khaute IPS Director General of Police (DGP), Manipur Police Headquarters  Imphal -97500. Manipur. Tel: +91-0385-2451166 Fax: +91-0385-2449825 Email: dgp-mnp@nic.in 2. Justice HL Dattu Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission Manav Adhikar Bhawan, Block-C, GPO Complex, INA New Delhi - 110 023. Email: cr.nhrc@nic.in 3. Shri Rajnath Singh Minister of Home Affairs Room No.104, North Block, Central Secretariat New Delhi – 110001. Tel: +9111 23092462 Fax: +9111 23094221 Email: jscpg-mha@nic.in 4. UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland. Fax: + 41 22 917 9006 Email: urgent-action@ohchr.org Thank you. Urgent Appeals Programme Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)
Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : AHRC-UAC-046-2018
Countries : India,
Issues : Freedom of assembly, Freedom of expression, Police violence,