TODAY -

Killing No Solution
- People vent anger over 'encounters' -
- Hueiyen Lanpao Editorial :: November 08, 2008 -



TO BORROW the words of Barack Obama, the US President-elect, "It's been a long time coming." It's not the intention of this column to elaborate on what he meant by saying that. But, if not the same, the closest plausible meaning could be applied to a situation that came about in Manipur just the other night.

On the evening of Thursday last around 6 pm, two underground activists said to be members of the PULF(U) were killed in an alleged encounter with a team of Imphal East District Police Commandos at Thambalkhong Sabal Leikai Meetei-Pangal Leirak in Imphal East District.

Not long after the 'encounter', reporters of various media organisations rushed to the spot carrying cameras and all to get the first shots of the dead bodies and to note down how the bodies were lying on the ground, what they wore, were there any injury marks other than the gun-shot wounds, what objects were recovered, how old they were, who were they, how they looked, which community and party they might have belonged to and all such forensic kind of clues and investigations through eyewitnesses, if any, and local people etc.

But as it happened, residents of the area came out in large number after the sound of gunshots had died down and blocked the road on which the police team which took part in the 'encounter' was returning. The residents appeared to be really furious. They said that their area was being turned into a favourite killing field of the police commandos, and vociferously objected to the police action.

Their main resentment was that the police commandos brought arrested persons in their vehicles to that place and shot them to death there, later the newspapers and the electronic media would publish/broadcast that some underground cadres had been killed in encounter.

Interestingly, the local residents did not spare the reporters as well from their fury. They also blocked the way of the newsmen alleging that the newsmen were colluding with the police and security forces "to stage fake encounters."

The local residents charged the media of Manipur with knowing beforehand about the incident, that's how some reporters arrived at the spot as soon as the incident happened, the men and women of the area argued.

The incident of Sabal Leikai is a very significant incident that has been brewing in the minds of the public for a long time. Reports say that at Sabal Leikai area alone, four times 'encounters' took place this year in which over half a dozen lives had been lost- all UG activists.

Naturally, the local residents must feel unable to bear any longer the sound of gun-fires and blood -spilling acts in their area. The protests of the local residents of Sabal Leikai area may be construed as a reflection of the public mood.

People are, indeed, fed up of all these killings, be it encounter or fake encounter or the killings committed by the armed underground groups. As it has been said for the nth time by different sections of the people, killing of suspected or true underground activists will never solve the problem of insurgency.

How many youths have to be killed before a settlement is arrived at, and how many thousands of Manipuri youths must the state police commandos and the central security forces kill to finish off the insurgents?

The MPP leaders, at a political conference held recently, expressed serious concern over the unabated trend of killing so-called underground activists- two-three to four-five per day in average.

If the killing goes on like this for another ten years, how many able bodied youths would be left to protect Manipur's identity and integrity?

Eminent writer MK Binodini, at a public function on Ningol Chakkouba day recently, expressed her great fear that if the killings do not stop, there would be no man left in Manipur in a few years from now. She made an earnest appeal to all concerned to stop the killings.

These are very relevant statements all sensible sections of the people-whether in the government, in the civil police and para military forces or in the various underground groups- can't simply brush off.

Even among the police officers, we hear sane voices saying "killing is no solution." Therefore these killings -be it by the police or the SF or the UGs-must stop.

Instead, peaceful and acceptable means should be searched and applied to bring solutions to the burning problems. Chief Minister Okram Ibobi had also recently said that violence has no place in a democratic set up.

Violence can not be divided into various kinds. Violence committed by the armed insurgents alone is not the only violence, violence committed by the government forces is also violence. Both are the one and the same to the people.

The catch line in the Sabal Leikai incident is obvious. The state police can't simply ignore it or pretend to ignore it.





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