TODAY -

Avoid Confrontation - Maintaining rule of law mustn't look like adopting repressive measures
- Hueiyen Lanpao Editorial :: June 02, 2009 -



It's almost one week since 13 students–all important figures belonging to three influential student organisations namely, Democratic Students' Alliance of Manipur (DESAM), All Manipur Students' Union (AMSU) and Manipuri Students' Federation (MSF) had been arrested by Imphal West District Police in the wake of the killing of Prof Islamuddin by some unknown persons on May 25 last on the campus of the university.

The students were arrested from different places–from their homes or the University hostels on the campus or elsewhere in connection with the killing of Prof Islamuddin. The arrested students have been remanded in Police custody till June 2, ie. today for further interrogation. Chief Minister Okram Ibobi had said at the RIMS mortuary when he visited the home of the cadavers to console the heart-broken family of the victim that "No one, including students' organisations, involved in the killing will be spared".

The Chief Minister sounded as if he had already been briefed by the DGP or the SP concerned about the possibility of involvement of certain student organisations in the incident. Or else he couldn't have just dragged the student factor in such a serious crime as that of murder of an esteemed professor. It couldn't simply be an off-the-cuff remark.

Within hours after the Chief Minister's remark, the Imphal West District Police Commandos conducted raid on the University hostels on the campus and homes of student leaders belonging to DESAM, AMSU and MSF. The Police Commandos seemed to have focused their attention more on DESAM, and arrested volunteers of this student body more than the other two student bodies.

In the meanwhile, one India Reserve Battalion (IRB) personnel said to have been somehow involved in the incident of killing the Professor has surrendered to the Police and is now in their custody. However, no report on arrest of any underground activist in connection with the incident has been received so far. This is despite the fact that the proscribed Kanglei Yawol Kana Lup (KYKL) has claimed responsibility for killing Prof Islamuddin.

Now everyone has come to know who the killers of the university teacher are, but the Police are yet to book the assassins. At the same time, the student organisations have been demanding immediate release of the arrested students. Students of Schools all over the valley have been staging protest demonstrations by boycotting class and taking out processions in the street or organising sit-in-protest.

The students' agitations are slowly taking the form of a movement which will be difficult to quell in the days to come. Knowing this, Police are reported to have gone to various schools and told the school authorities not to allow their students to join the protest agitations. But when it comes to matters relating to students' movement, words of the powerful student bodies are considered heavier than that of Police.

For, one day after the din has settled down, the student leaders will suddenly appear at the school that had not obliged their request or diktat or whatever one may call it, and reopen pangs of migraine. This is more formidable than any possible police action to the heads of the schools.

DESAM had earlier set deadline on May 31 for release of the arrested students, and if the state government does not release them, it had warned, it would call a 120- hours state wide general strike from the next day. However, the student body had postponed it till June 2 in public interest. Unless the arrested students are released somehow today, DESAM along with like-minded student organisations will go ahead with its plan of 120-hours general strike, which means five-day bandh in Manipur.

It's really sorrowful to think that the people of Manipur will have to confine themselves at home for an age-like five long days. Police are contending that the arrested students are involved in the killing of Prof Islamuddin and have link with underground outfits. This is where the student organisations and the state government are set to confront each other.

But this confrontation is going to make the people, specially the poor class suffer too much, which should be avoided. If police can prove that all the 13 arrested students or some of them were directly or indirectly involved in the brutal murder of Prof Islamuddin, let them face the consequences, and the Police must reveal their style of involvement to the people.

But if the police can't substantiate their charges and are simply detaining them on some frame-up charges, they'd better be released at once before the situation gets uglier. In the name of maintaining rule of law, the authorities must not take to repressive measures.





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