TODAY -

NSCN-IM's Admission - How long before the 'severest punishment' ?
- Hueiyen Lanpao Editorial :: February 24, 2009 -



From the moment people in Manipur heard the news that three Meeteis from Imphal– Kasom Khullen SDO Dr Thingnam Kishan, his driver Aribam Rajen and Mandol Yumnam Token– were found brutally murdered on the morning of February 17, everyone had no doubt in his/her mind that the crime would have certainly been committed by the cadres of NSCN-IM.

Besides, reports were received at the press that Dr Kishan, his two subordinate staff and three other persons of Tangkhul tribe were abducted by some armed militants who are believed to be cadres of NSCN-IM in the afternoon of February 13 from the gate of the office of Deputy Commissioner of Ukhrul District. Just seconds before they were abducted by the armed goons, the SDO had held discussions with the DC, Pankaj Kumar Pal in his office chamber, the reports had said.

Reporters based in Imphal, including some of Huiyen Lanpao had received reports from several reliable sources that the armed abductors were all well-known persons in Ukhrul town as belonging to the powerful Isac-Muivah faction of the NSCN. But the families of the three unfortunate victims had already received words that the three government employees were in the custody of NSCN-IM and negotiations were underway. For the three families, tense moments turned into hours, days and nights, then the ultimate came after a long wait of four days and five nights.

Based on reports from various sources, newspapers published in Imphal reported the recovery of three bodies with marks of brutality, and their abduction four days earlier in different presentations–some extra-cautiously for various reasons and some half openly pointing the needle of suspicion at the NSCN-IM. But the report in the Manipuri-in-Bangla script edition of Hueiyen Lanpao (February 18) directly pointed the accusing finger at the Naga rebel group as having committed the barbaric triple murder. The same day, the NSCN-IM's publicity department issued statements at Dimapur in Nagaland saying that the outfit has nothing to do with the brutal murder of the SDO and his two staff, and condemned the incident of murder. Moreover, the outfit slammed the Hueiyen Lanpao and the Joint Action Committee, set up against the brutal killing of the three men, calling both "irresponsible" for having projected the outfit as being involved in the murder. The outfit also philosophised on other things, including what a newspaper ought to do and not to do.

All that's past now, and there is a new dimension to these whole sad series of cliffhangers with the NSCN-IM's admission that one of its Commanding Officers was the mastermind behind the brutal killing of the three government employees. Now we'll be blind and dumb if we let this opportunity pass untapped without asking what would a sensible person mean by saying "irresponsible" and who turned out to be the irresponsible people at this moment?

However, what's more important now is what kind of punishment will the NSCN-IM give the murderers – "the black sheep of the family" in its own words? Will the outfit at all punish the murderer ? If, the murderers are to be punished, under what and whose laws will the punishment be sentenced? Will it be given based on the Naga customary laws or the law of the land as elucidated in the Indian Penal Codes? Going by the past incidents such as that of Lungnila Elizabeth's kidnap and murder case; kidnap, murder and burial case of Hrini Hubert and Mohni Martin, attempt to rape and murder case of Nepali girl Manju Maya, etc (as discussed in this column on February 21), there is little comfort in the thought that justice will be done and will be seen as done from the side of the NSCN-IM.

We may not certainly be dubbed as irresponsible once again for expressing what we feel deeply that this time also the NSCN-IM is most likely to try to find new grounds for making necessary enquiries into the case, to get the truth thus letting months and months, then years pass by, like it did in many other cases. For that matter, Manipur's underground outfits are real fast in getting justice done in similar cases. The Naga rebel outfit had better learn from Manipur outfits in such matters.

On the other hand, now that the Government of Manipur has come to know that the NSCN-IM has on its own disclosed that the merciless killing of SDO and staff was carried out by its cadres, a load of weight has been taken off the shoulder of the government. What the Chief Minister could not disclose, the NSCN-IM has done, much to the comfort of O Ibobi. And now the Chief Minister can ask the Government of India to direct the NSCN-IM to hand over the accused persons to the Government of Manipur immediately to take up legal proceedings so that justice may be done swiftly. The state government would do better not to wait for the CBI or any other bureaucratic enquiry to make their own steps which are always slowed down by official hassles and red-tapism, and which most of the times take ages. Hurt sentiments of a people must be healed quickly, longer the delay, worse the hurt.





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