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Home » Internship Experiences » Internship Experience at Human Rights Alert, Manipur: Insights into the Working of the Organization

Internship Experience at Human Rights Alert, Manipur: Insights into the Working of the Organization

LSAT - Discover Law
LSAT - Discover Law

Dual mode internship: Mid Law School crisis breakthrough; Reproduction of Commission Inquiry Reports. Case Study, compilation and report, computerization of CBI report for Public Interest, social engagement and contribution. 

Name of the Student, Year of Study and Course, College

Khumanthem Ishwari, 5th Year B.A.LL.B.(Hons.), Amity Law School Noida, Amity University Uttar Pradesh.

Name of the Organization and Full Address of the Organization

Human Rights Alert Manipur, Kwakeithel Thiyam Leikai, P.O Imphal, P.S Lamphel, Imphal West, Manipur, PIN-795001.

About the Organisation

Human Rights Alert Manipur is a non-governmental, voluntary organisation under the Indian Trust Act 1882. Its individual members are committed to the cause of human rights in Manipur. Its main concerns presently include extra-judicial killing by the police and security forces in Manipur (The Supreme court of India examined the case of 1,528 alleged extra-judicial killing), refugee rights with regard to refugees resulting from the Myanmar coup, formation of Citizen Committee Manipur for crowdfunding for Myanmar Refugee, food rights of citizens during Covid-19 pandemic, sustainable development goals. It also deals with other human rights cases that may arise from time to time. It also carries out surveys and interacts with victims of human rights violation incidents. 

Duration of Internship

1st June 2021 to 1st July 2021

How Did You Apply?

I inquired about how to apply for internship at their office, then sent my internship application with my CV and cover letter to the email address of the Organization’s Executive Director. I got a reply of acceptance after three days. 

The Linkedin account of the Executive Director, Mr Babloo Loitongbam can be found for inquiries and other purposes. 

First Day Formalities, Infrastructure, First impression

An orientation program was held on 31st May, 2021 through Zoom Meeting. 

During the orientation, I was introduced to the working of the Organisation and the human rights causes they deal with at the moment. Some important working members of the organization was also introduced including social activist, lawyers who would help and guide us during the course of the internship.

The Executive director also stressed on his desire to make the internship as solid, helpful, insightful and contributing as possible despite the situation, which was a pleasant surprise. 

The infrastructure for any intern would be perfect to learn and engage with the organization and the society at large. 

Main Tasks

  1. Reproduction of Upendra Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the June 18, 2001 incidents in Manipur: On June 18, 2001 the people of Manipur rose against the cease-fire agreement without territorial limits between the Government of India and NSCN (IM) in Bangkok. This decision threatened the territorial integrity and idea of Manipur. The protest was followed by police(CRPF) firing killing 14 civilians and 4 more in the subsequent event. The decision of the Union was retreated due to public protest. A commission was formed to inquire into the incidents of this day. Later the government put away the report from public eye without any consideration. A copy of the Commission report was recently acquired by the organization through the Supreme Court and was found to be unreadable, smudged and several pages missing. Reference to old newspaper records were made to reproduce the report.
  1. Computerization of CBI Closure Report, 2020 (June 18, 2001 incident): After nearly 20 years a CBI Closure was made regarding the incidents of June 18, 2001 police firing killing and injuring many in Manipur. The report needed to be computerised for purposes of the organization. This was my second task. 
  1. 20th Great June Uprising Day, 2021 (June 18 event): The protest of June 18, 2001 was not only against the cease-fire agreement but also against the non-performing government that frustrated the citizen of Manipur. The June 18 is celebrated as the Great Uprising Day in honour of the martyrs. This is significant as it represents the power of the voice of the citizens in a democracy. The protest led to the U-turn of the Union Government’s decision of cease fire agreement. 

Human Rights Alert Manipur along with EEVFAM (Extrajudicial Execution Victim Association, Manipur in commemoration of the Great Uprising day organised the book release function of the Report of Upendra Judicial Commission of Inquiry appointed for Inquiry into the incidents of June 18, 2001. It was a live streamed event. It was a learning experience to take part in some organizational work of the event. 

  1. Reproduction of The Report of the Commission of the Judicial Inquiry (Manorama Death Inquiry Commission): In the night between 10th July and 11th July, 2004, a strong troop of 17th Assam Rifles committed brutal and merciless torture of Km. Thangjam Manorama Devi before arresting her from her home. Her bullet ridden body was found on a roadside land in the morning of 11th July, 2004. A commission of Inquiry was constituted on 12th July, 2004 by the Manipur Government since it threatens the civil liberties and security of the citizens. The reproduction of this report was much easier compared to the commission of June 18, 2001.
  2. Case law reading and report: The custodial/extrajudicial execution of Km. Manorama Devi was excluded from the 1,528 extra-judicial killing in Manipur examined by the Supreme Court of India due a pending Special Leave Petition challenging the authority of the Manipur government to constitute a commission under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952 and the Assam Rifles’ claim for protection under Armed Forces Special Power Act, 1958. I did a full report on the case’s current status, previous judgements of the High Court benches, procedural history, case analysis including facts and question of law, reading of orders to find relevant information. 
  3. EEVFAM, Extrajudicial Execution Victims Families Association 12th Foundation Day, 11th July (after official internship):  The day of the alleged custodial killing of Km. Manorama Devi was observed as part of the foundation day of EEVFAM. I was responsible for the social media handles as it was a live stream event, although some of us were at the venue. A book release of Report of Manorama Death Inquiry Commission and Report of the Operation Blue Bird was held. It was a major learning experience as many knowledgeable persons, including advocates, victim family, social activist and members of HRA Manipur and EEVFAM addressed the gathering with first hand accounts of human rights violation. 

Good Things

  1. The Report of  Upendra Commission of Judicial Inquiry, June 18 incidents was released to the public for the first time after 20 years. It was my honour to be acknowledged in the publication for my reproduction work. I also got the chance to make a speech at the event regarding the challenges of reproduction and my feelings and views as a youth to its relevance in present day. 
  2. It was again my honour to be acknowledged for my effort in reproducing the Commission Report on death of Manorama. 
  3. The internship gave me first-hand experience of some of the most monumental events in the history of Manipur. There is something about getting involved in the field that you will not get by reading the same from a book. It taught me the ins and outs of such events, it provided me with an edge knowing things that are not always recorded in books and the internet or even the news. It has made me aware of the scope we as lawyers should invest in to bring better tomorrow. 

Lessons Learned

Legal

I was made familiar and learned a lot about human right, the Indian Constitution, Armed Forces Special Power Act 1958, Commission of Inquiry Act 1952, etc. I became more familiar with case research, case reports and case analysis. Also learned the advantages and lags of Indian Law System in first hand account.

From reading the CBI report, and two commissions I learned the judicial processes of the same. These reports also horrified me with their reports regarding other governmental institutions and their lag in performances to provide justice, their failure to maintain record keeping of cases.

Personal: First of all it has shown me the importance of getting involved and engaging with social issues. In the end of the day our duty as lawyers and advocates is to protect humanity as a whole and keep alive the democratic spirit. It has also shown me the power of contribution and what one can do to bring change in society.

Secondly, on the darker side, it has shown me how our society has not progressed in many aspects, this has taught me what we can do in the future if we ever want to see change and be progressive. 

Stipend (If any)

None

Accommodation, Commuting to work

Commuted to office a few times with personal arrangement. 

Work Environment 

The work environment was motivating, progressive, inclusive, and full of knowledge. 

Personal Takeaways/Suggestions/Additional Information 

Not everyone has a clear picture of where they are going next. And even if we had a clear idea at the beginning, some of us get lost midway, this is more likely during the present situation where everything has changed and uncertainty looms over. Dreams are broken and shattered. 

For any person who is lost due to any reason relevant to the individual, what I learned this time is to look around, do not stop. Looking for online internships may not be for everyone. If so look for organisations around you, whose work align with your core desire, as in my case it was to engage with the society and contribute. Approach them, go to their office and inquire. Many of them are willing to provide you with experience, it’s a gain for them also. As one of my senior rightfully said “Be shameless”. 

Work that aligns with our core values and desires hit differently. The only way to motivate yourself when you feel you have no purpose is to look inside and start over. 

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