Over 6,500 police cases have been filed in ethnic violence-hit Manipur since clashes between the Kuki-Zo-Chin tribes and the Meiteis started on May 3, according to police data submitted to the Supreme Court on Monday.
A total of 6,523 first information reports (FIRs) – a majority of them ‘zero FIRs’ – have been filed in Manipur between the nearly three-month period from May 3 to July 30, according to the police report titled ‘Disaggregation of 6,523 FIRs’ that gives a break-up of the cases under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
A ‘zero FIR’ can be filed at any police station, not necessarily at a police station under whose jurisdiction the crime happened. Such an FIR has no number assigned, hence the name ‘zero FIR’, and the police station where the case has been filed has to send the FIR to the correct jurisdiction, which will then investigate it.
Police sources said they found that many zero FIRs have been filed over the same case.
A huge number of separate FIRs have also been filed by different individuals living under one roof for the same case, when one FIR should have been filed under multiple sections of the relevant law to apply the correct charges, police sources said.
As a result of the massive number of zero FIRs filed across Manipur amid the violence in May, June and July, the total number of police cases inflated by zero FIRs with multiple duplications reached over 14,000, according to police data which was part of the material given to the Supreme Court on Monday.
Manipur police chief Rajiv Singh was present at the Supreme Court on Monday to answer queries on the ethnic violence and steps taken by the administration to bring peace and ensure law and order.
Multiple zero FIRs over the same case by different people living under one roof can complicate compensation claims, a Supreme Court lawyer told NDTV, requesting anonymity. “Compensation will take into account FIRs to check for false claims. Some people probably thought they will try this method for more compensation later,” the lawyer said.
In the police report, the 6,523 FIRs have been distributed under four subheadings – “murder and/or rape and outraging of modesty; arson, looting and destruction of house property; destruction of places of worship, and grievous hurt”.
One rape and murder case, three rape/gang-rape cases, 72 murder cases, and four “outraging modesty” cases have been filed, the police report shows.
The biggest chunk of police cases has been filed under the category “arson, looting and destruction of house property.” These cases in thousands, inflated by multiple zero FIRs over the same cases, are arson (4,454), looting (4,148), destruction of house property (4,694), and damage to public property (584).
This data indicates the huge scale of destruction of property in Manipur when the ethnic violence was at its worst.
Forty-six FIRs, too, have been filed over “destruction of places of religious worship”.
Manipur has been slowly returning to normalcy, though reports of sporadic violence have been coming every day. Over 40,000 central forces have been deployed in the northeast state.
More than 170 have died in the violence that started during a protest on May 3 by the hill-majority Kuki tribe over the valley-majority Meiteis’ demand for inclusion under the Scheduled Tribes (ST) category.
Days after the ethnic clashes erupted, the Kukis moved to asserting for their long-term goal – the demand for a separate administration in Manipur.
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