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Editorial of the week

Sangaiyumpham Fiasco
Courtesy: The Sangai Express 19th September, 2007



Was the uprising by the people of Sangaiyumpham at Thoubal district against the Assam Rifles personnel in which 16 of them were over powered and kept locked in a room on September 17 a thing waiting to happen or should it be taken as just another one incident, where the operation went wrong ?

This question merit serious deliberations on the part of Delhi, the State Government as well as the Army and the Union Home Ministry. The question should come from within because the answer will lie within.

If such an incident becomes a trend then the situation can only be imagined.

To start with, we may begin by asking a few questions first.

Why were the first batch of AR personnel who went to the house of the candidate dressed in civvies ?
Why didnít they identify themselves as AR personnel in the first place by wearing their designated uniform ?
Is raiding suspected hide outs or while launching a combing operation in civvies an unstated but important part of CI Ops ?

This question gains credence in the backdrop of the numerous earlier accusations being raised of security personnel coming to the house of a suspect in civvies and picking him up, only to discover the bullet riddled body of the suspect the following day.

There have been times too when the security personnel have been accused of picking up a suspect in civil clothes after which the picked up person disappeared for good.

A fitting example is the story of Laishram Bijoykumar of Thangmeiband who was allegedly picked up by security personnel in civvies sometime in the 1990s to disappear for good.

The remains of the charred Sumo after being pushed into a river


It was a co-incidence that the Sangaiyumpham incident occurred even as the attention of the international community was turned towards the fast unto death agitation launched by Irom Sharmila Chanu demanding the lifting of the Armed Force Special Powers Act.

This cannot be good PR for the security personnel under any circumstances and while we are of the opinion that the men in uniform should be allowed to carry out their official duty, it remains to be answered whether the search and the attempted arrest by the AR men while in civvies can be termed as official duty or not.

The reason why we have attached so much importance to the sartorial preference of the AR men while conducting their duty is because of many reasons, some of which have been cited above.

The AR authority should not let the matter fester nor should it go on a witch hunt, but what is needed is a sincere look inwards and study whether their men over stepped the line or not.

More than anyone else, the security personnel and their top brass will agree that fighting insurgency is a sensitive issue for it is not a conventional war, and this is the prime reason, why the personnel should be sensitive to the sentiments of the local population or else, the Sangaiyumpham fiasco, may well be the swan song to the authority they are supposed to wield as well as the respect they are supposed to command.



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