India’s Supreme Court has ordered an inquiry into allegations of extra-judicial executions by security forces in the north-eastern state of Manipur.

The court has asked federal investigators to examine multiple civilian deaths between 1979 and 2012

Activists say that troops have killed more than 1,500 people in the state in the past four decades.

Officials deny the claim and blame the deaths on insurgent groups which have been fighting for independence.

The court’s order follows its decision last year to ask rights groups and the families of the victims to gather evidence against security forces.

The government and security forces opposed any investigation into the civilian deaths.

But the court accepted the evidence presented by rights groups, who accuse security forces of misusing a controversial anti-insurgency law to commit rights abuses.

The armed forces special powers act gives the security forces the powers of search and seizure. It also protects soldiers who may kill a civilian by mistake or in unavoidable circumstances during an operation.

The law has been blamed for “Fake Killings” in Manipur and occupied Kashmir.