ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Politics of Mourning

Justice and Healing in Manipur

The burden of grief for victims of regime-sponsored repression and state atrocities is compounded by the public denial of their loss and suffering. The Supreme Court's decision on the writ petition filed by Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families Association Manipur and families of persons extrajudicially executed by security forces in Manipur is a milestone in the struggle for truth and justice. The judicial response has refashioned the law, responding to the suffering and pain of the aggrieved and tempering the law with justice.

The judgment of the Supreme Court in Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families Association Manipur (EEVFAM) and Another v Union of India and Another1 is an important milestone in the struggle of families of persons extrajudicially executed by the police and security forces in Manipur. On 8 July 2016, the Court held that armed forces cannot claim blanket immunity from prosecution, and that criminal proceedings can be instituted against armed forces personnel in cases of use of excessive force resulting in the death of any person.

EEVFAM, a registered trust of the mothers and widows of the victims, was formed when the victims united in their grief. Neena Ningombam, whose husband, Nongmaithem Michael, was murdered in 2008, in a killing later described as an “encounter,” recalls how EEVFAM was born: “On 11 July 2009, some 30 of us got together, shared our stories and cried the whole day on each other’s shoulders” (2012). EEVFAM was thus formed to reclaim mourning by a public display of their private, and often unrecognised, grief and to chart a way towards collective healing.

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