Guwahati: The BJP-led coalition government in Manipur is all set to pass a bill that would award capital punishment to those involved in rape of minors.
The bill is likely to be passed during the upcoming Assembly session. While condemning the incidents of rape across the country, Chief Minister N Biren Singh said that rapists are criminals who do not have any colour or belongingness.
“The Manipur government had recently announced the establishment of two investigative units in the state to address cases of crime against women. In the upcoming Assembly session, we will try to bring in a bill for awarding capital punishment for those who rape and murder minors,” said N Biren.
However, human rights activists in Manipur do not agree with the government’s decision.
Human Rights defender Babloo Loitongbam said that such a decision would ensure retribution, not justice.
“We don’t agree to capital punishment. It is not going to solve the problem,” said Loitongbam.
Peoples' Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA) convenor Erendro Leichombam asked the state government and the Centre to bring in a bill that would deal not just with civilians, but also armed forces personnel convicted of rape.
Leichomban pointed out that the state is still awaiting justice in the rape and murder of Thangjam Manorama in 2004.
Erendro, however, said that rapists should be given maximum punishment instead of death penalty.
“Rapists should be put in jail permanently. We welcome the government’s decision to protect women of the state, but we are against capital punishment. The bill would essentially address civilians found guilty of crime, but the Indian Army would not come under the ambit of this bill. Similar laws should be applied for men in uniform,” he said.
PRJA had recently organised a candlelight march in Imphal against the rape cases of Kathua, Unnao and Manipur.
According to the Women Action for Development (WAD), an organization working for the rights of women and children, 38 rape cases were reported in Manipur from January to November 25, 2017, of which 28 rape victims are minors. As many as 15 rape cases have been filed in Manipur since the beginning of 2018. The victims and their families still await justice.
After the gruesome rape and murder of an eight-year-old in Kathua, J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and Union minister Maneka Gandhi had proposed a law to make death penalty mandatory for those who violate minors.
MP, Rajasthan, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh have already passed bills in their respective state Assemblies to award death penalties in similar crimes.
Facing flak for mishandling the alleged Unnao rape case, the UP government too has decided to bring in a law awarding death penalty to rapists in cases of assault on minors.
(With inputs from Noren Ninghombam)