The Co-ordination of Democratic Rights Organisations (CDRO) strongly condemns the gruesome murder of Manoj Konwar fellow civil rights activist and member Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS) on 22nd September in Sivasagar district Assam, allegedly by ‘unknown assailants’. Konwar had gone to the local market in connection with preparations for his brother-in-law’s wedding. His bullet riddled body with seven gunshot wounds was found by local villagers in a paddy field on 23rd morning. His bicycle was found nearby.
While the police have alleged that the killers belonged to ULFA, recent events point in the direction of police involvement. According to Manoj’s family they had been visited by the SP together with Black Cat commandos that very morning. A leading voice against rights violations by state forces and a whistleblower in cases of illegal coal mining in the area, the police had earlier also threatened him with dire consequences if he did not desist from his rights’ activities.
Such extra judicial killings of activists of activists of MASS and other organisations by security forces using or in the guise of non-state actors are nothing new. The term ‘secret killing’ for such acts of extra- judicial terror by the state has from the late 1990s and early 2000s has become very familiar to common people in Assam. Unlike fake encounters where security forces have to justify their actions by framing evidence of those killed being ‘hardcore insurgents killed in action’, ‘secret killings’ free the police of even this sham of accountability.
MASS has been consistently raising the demand for proper inquiries into cases of killings of rights activists and others, including the reopening of the murder case Parag Das, founder MASS and editor Asomiya Pratidin killed by ‘unidentified gunmen’ in broad daylight in 1996. However the recent killing of Manoj Konwar shows the continuing and complete immunity of the state, despite vociferous demands for justice.
CDRO receives this murder of a fellow rights defender with deep shock and anger. An active campaigner against civil rights’ violations across the country we had all met him on 7th September when he participated in large CDRO dharna in Delhi against state repression. CDRO demands a time-bound judicial inquiry into the killing of Manoj Konwar and speeding up of the inquiries into erstwhile cases.
Asish Gupta (PUDR) and Kranti Chaitanya (APCLC)
email: [email protected]
Member Organizations: Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR, Punjab), Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC), Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR, West Bengal), Assansol Civil Rights Association (West Bengal), Bandi Mukti Committee (West Bengal), Campaign for Peace & Democracy (CPDM) Manipur, Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR, Mumbai), Coordination for Human Rights (COHR, Manipur), Human Rights Forum (HRF, Andhra), Lokshahi Hak Sangathana (LHS, Maharashtra), Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS, Assam), Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR), Organisation for Protection of Democratic Rights (OPDR, Andhra), Peoples Committee for Human Rights (PCHR), Jammu and Kashmir), Peoples Democratic Forum (PDF, Karnataka), Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Chhattisgarh, PUCL Jharkhand, PUCL Nagpur, PUCL Rajasthan, PUCL Tamilnadu, People’s Union For Democratic Rights (PUDR) Delhi, Peoples Union for Civil Rights (PUCR) Haryana.