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EDITORIAL: Not Rhetoric, Action Wanted

Chief Minister Okram Ibobi’s declaration to take up befitting actions against the perpetrators of the April 15 ambush on Phungyar MLA Wungnaoshang Keishing at Riha village in Ukhrul district was only logical and what was expected from a Government. It is not only about the particular Riha ambush, whether it is ambush or attack by proscribed or non-proscribed groups, it is generally expected from an elected Government to react in befitting manner to all kinds of criminal and illegal activities. This is exactly what is implied by the Chief Minister’s statement.

We would say it’s quite logical. But people have a nagging suspicion in the backdrop of the State’s failure on many occasions to put its own words into actions. Here, a serious question arises whether the Chief Minister’s statement would turn out to be some well sounding but hollow words. This does not mean that none of the guilty individuals have been punished. In fact, there were several cases when persons found guilty in many crimes were punished according to the State’s statutes. Again, there might be some cases where the guilty were punished beyond the public view due to compelling reasons or strenuous situations.

Having said all these, we should admit it is not a cakewalk to pursue legal procedures under the Indian judicial system, not to talk about the multi-tier process which is highly time consuming to the level of frustration and despair to those seeking justice. It is not uncommon for persons known to be guilty for murder or other criminal activities going scot-free for want of evidence. People have certain inklings that those guilty for the particular crime may escape legal prosecution and that is where the dubiousness of the Chief Minister’s statement rests as far as the discerning citizens of the State are concerned.

Leaving apart the question whether or not the State can produce evidence, people do not have much confidence that there would be a fair trial in time in view of the country’s legal procedure which is uncannily lengthy. Already, there were many cases where the State after boldly declaring to do justice failed even to prosecute the accused breeding widespread discontent among the general mass. However, it would be incorrect to assume that justice has been denied for good as prosecution and punishment of any accused must be done under the country’s judicial system and it may take a very long time. Acting beyond this system would render the whole process illegal. Until and unless the existing system is replaced by another or amended, the State has no other option but follow it. At least, we should accept this.

At the same time, one just cannot ignore that many are deeply anguished and disappointed at the State’s failure to fix responsibilities for many a great serious crimes even if the perpetrators are known to the public. It is no secret that the Government hushed up or tried to do so in many incidents of illegal activities perpetrated by those in agreement with it or under dialogue processes for fear that the same process or agreement would be upset. Under such circumstances, the Government might have punished the perpetrators beyond public view or issued strong instructions not to repeat their unacceptable activities but people have all the right to raise voices of dissent for they are not told the names of the perpetrators.

Hushing up such illegal activities only encourage the perpetrators to deceive the public with wily but untruthful publicity while keeping the people seething helplessly. No one in Manipur is stranger to such illegal activities carried out more often than not. Men with criminal tendencies cannot be corrected overnight but it would do a sea of good for the common mass and enable them take up precautionary measures if their misdeeds and illegal activities are informed to the mass. In addition to just promising befitting punishment to the guilty, due responsibility should be fixed on them and the State should have the capacity to identify and inform the public who the guilty are.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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