South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), a regional network of human rights defenders, is deeply concerned to learn that Babloo Loitongbam, a well respected Human Rights Defender (HRD) is being threatened and his home located in Imphal district in Manipur was vandalised on 5 October 2023.

Babloo Loitongbam is a highly respected and credible human rights defender from Manipur who has relentlessly and objectively raised human rights issues ranging from Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), to enforced disappearances to the plight of the family members of people killed in ‘encounters’. In the ongoing violence and strife in Manipur Loitongbam’s voice has been one of clear, unequivocal non-partisan and objective denouncement of violence against whoever is the perpetrator – Kuki, Meitei or the state security forces. He has been critical of the role of the Chief Minister Biren Singh and along with other rational thinking citizens of Manipur has been calling for his resignation. But on 5 October 2023, members of Meitei Leepun and Arambai Tenggol issued a boycott call against Loitongbam, directing him not to appear on public platforms till the ongoing conflict was resolved. It is on the same day that his home was vandalised.

HRDs in India continue to be under attack for promoting and protecting human rights of citizens. SAHR notes that the intimidation and harassment of HRDs under the present government has increased manifold often and conveniently using belligerent vigilante groups even though the state has the responsibility to protect HRDs and democratic space for civil society. It is astounding that vigilantes who vandalise and indulge in violence are protected and enjoy impunity in Manipur while citizens’ voices calling for justice and state accountability are gagged. This is indeed a new and all time low for the state of democracy in India especially in Manipur which has entered its fifth month of conflict without a resolution and with no end in sight. It is difficult to comprehend why a government which has every resource at its disposal to be able to curb vigilante violence has preferred to remain inactive.

SAHR firmly believes that the present atmosphere in Manipur is still highly volatile and expects that ‘duty holders’ like the State Government and the Central Government will take effective measures to guarantee non-recurrence of violence that has already destroyed lives and property. SAHR advocates the Governments to ensure an environment conducive for HRDs to assist those vulnerable people who have been devastated by the ongoing violence since May 2023. Finally, SAHR calls for an impartial and independent inquiry into the attack on the home of Babloo Loitongbam and on the gag rule that is being imposed on discerning citizens and holding the perpetrators accountable.

On behalf of the members of South Asians for Human Rights

Dr. P. Saravanamuttu

Sushil Pyakurel
Bureau Member