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Army whistleblower reveals ‘custodial killings’

Lt Col Dharamvir Singh, a para commando officer, was ‘arrested’ in front of his wife and two children on 1 July. He was released after his wife filed a habeas corpus

Yambem Laba | Imphal |

The cat is finally out of the bag with a Lieutenant Colonel of the Indian Army turning whistleblower and revealing details of many custodial killings by the security forces to Manipur High Court in the form of an affidavit filed on Saturday.

Lt-Col Dharamvir Singh was filing his reply after he was uncemoniously abducted/arrested by personnel of the Indian Army recently. His wife Ranju Singh had filed a Habeas Corpus Case in Manipur High Court and he was subsequently released.

In the affidavit it was also mentioned as to how Army personnel had released an arrested lady after taking an amount of Rs. 1 crore as hush money. In the affidavit that was filed before Manipur High Court yesterday the Lt-Col had stated as to how three Manipuri youths ~ Phijam Naobi, R.K. Ranel and Th Prem ~ were“arrested” by the group called the Counter Intelligence
and Surveillance Unit in 2000, a cloak and dagger unit of the Indian Army then directly reporting to the then GOC of the 3 Corps based in Rangaphar in Nagaland’s Dimapur, and were shot dead behind their unit mess and their bodies dumped inside the jungles in Karbi Anglong area of Assam.

Blood on their hands?

A major of the same Intelligence Unit, T Ravi Kiran, who was the second in command of the Intelligence Unit under Colonel G Sri Kumar, had written to the Army’s higher authorities and had revealed as to how the three boys were first captured and killed in cold blood.

But a court of inquiry conducted by the 3 Corps had absolved all the army personnel in the case.

The affidavit also mentioned as to how a PLA leader by the name of G Jiteshwar Sharma, alias Gypsy, then functioning as the assistant publicity secretary of the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Front (RPF) of Manipur was also abducted along with an accomplice on 18 August 2011 and subsequently killed and buried behind the unit mess.

It also stated how a lady with a child was kidnapped from Dimapur and was subsequently released after she paid a sum of Rs 1 crore in cash.

The affidavit also states that another Manipuri youth, Thangjam Satish, was killed in cold blood after being arrested by the Counter Intelligence and Surveillance Unit of the Indian Army’s 3-Corps.

STATESMAN SPECIAL REPORT | A farce in three acts

These incidents had been brought to the notice of the then Chief of Army Staff, General VK Singh, who had ordered an Inquiry against then Lt-General Dalbir Singh Suhag who did his best to brush the matter under the carpet.

A very dissatisfied General V K Singh had then ordered a Disciplinary and Vigilance ban on Lt-General Suhag Singh and the man who was made to sign that letter was Brigadier L I Singh a Manipuri by birth and a war hero, having accounted for 57 Pakistanis killed during Operation Parakram in the Post Kargil Operation.

By a twist of fate General V K Singh could not get his tenure extended and General Bikram Singh later became the COAS and Lt-General Dalbir Singh Suhag came next in line. And one of the first tasks which General Bikram Singh as the COAS carried out was to remove the Disciplinary and Vigilance Ban on General Suhag paving his was to eventually become the COAS of the Indian Army.

But the duo did not stop then and now began targeting Brigadier L I Singh and on a trumped up charge of having taken away with him two carpets measuring 3×5 feet whilst he was commanding a Brigade in the Sikkim area, he was kept under a Disciplinary and Vigilance ban, almost ensuring an end to his otherwise illustrious career in the Indian Army. His case is still pending before the Armed Forces Tribunal which had kept its ruling in reserve.

But that apart, Lt.Colonel Dharamvir, too had tried convincing the Army higher ups over the custodial killings of the three Manipuri boys in 2000. He had written a letter in September 2016 about the notorious unit’s involvement in the killing of the three youths but he was persuaded by the Army authorities that his complaint will be looked into and was made to withdraw his complaint.

This para commando officer was serving with this “rogue” unit of the Army when the three boys were killed.

The case of the killings went up to Gauhati High Court which had ordered a re-investigation into the killing of the three Manipuri boys and to submit their post mortem examinations records.

Perhaps it was out of fear that Lt-Colonel Dharamvir will spill some more beans, causing further embarrassment to the Army, that they tried to silence him by abducting him in front of his wife and two children in Imphal on 1 July, prompting his wife to first file an FIR with Manipur Police and thereafter to move Manipur High Court.