Wrong Arm Of The Law

Whoever coined the term, ‘˜Long Arm of the Law’ could not have been a dullard and it certainly must have required a bit of wit, a sharp observation and some knowledge of how the law of the land and more importantly its manner of enforcement, impact on the lives of its citizens. In its most fundamental understanding, this term simply means that no one can escape from the law of the land and it is with this understanding why we refer to this term ‘˜Long Arm of the Law’ whenever a wanted criminal or a declared absconder finally finds himself or herself behind bars.

This is the basic understanding of this term but it does not end here, for there is something uniquely appealing and universal in this observation and the immediate point that stands out prominently is the belief that justice will be delivered, no matter how long it takes. At least this is how the modern, civilized and liberal society understands justice and its mechanisms.

However, history provides enough material to safely conclude that the ‘˜Long Arm of Law’ can be abused by the very persons wielding it and in the process this term can metamorphose from Long to Wrong. The mutation process of this term is also a delight with many wordsmiths, such as journalists, who are widely regarded as recording history in a hurry and of course how can one miss the perfect rhyming of the two words?

Manipur is not an exception to this and while the law should have been applied to persons with dubious characters and past histories, the contrary is the reality in many cases. So while political classes or those with political clouts can cock a snook at the law enforcing agencies by supping with the enemy of the state, the lesser mortals can be pulled up on trumped up charges, which sounds genuine, with the genuineness ending only with the ‘sounds genuine’ and nothing more.

Just as other facets of life, the philosophy and ideals of justice have also changed with the time and what was once regarded as perfectly legitimate, such as the tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye concept of justice, during the days of Hammurabi of the famous Babylonian civilization, will find no takers in the modern world today, though such practice as stoning to death and honor killing and definition of justice, which do not exactly suit the 21st century continue to be in vogue in certain countries, which are founded on fundamentalism.

This is a short comment on justice and how it goes along with the law of a land or a country, but as we have noted before, Manipur will figure somewhere at the top in the international community, if a list of states or Governments, circumventing the law to go on a witch hunt or settle scores with an adversary, is drawn up. We have not plucked this observation from thin air but from our experience as journalists, who have had to rub shoulders with criminals, insurgents as well as the security personnel, not to speak of the dhoti clad politician, with the perennial smile and complemented by the namaste. Like in many democracies, the press in Manipur too share a love-hate relationship with the State police as well as the security forces, such as the Assam Rifles, Army, CRPF, BSF etc, but there is always a Lakshman Rekha to sanitize this ‘˜working relationship.’

In a conflict ridden society, where there are so many forces at play, each with their own interest and agenda, it is but natural that there will be a clash of interest between the journalists and the men in Khakis and to the media fraternity, 2011 will not go down as one of the better years. In fact, we will not be exaggerating things, if we go to the extent of stating that the second decade of the new millennium started in an inauspicious manner and there is every reason to believe that this trend will carry on with each passing month this year.

As citizens of this land we have every right to protest when justice seems to have been subverted by the powers that be. And note this, as journalists we keep our ears on the ground and what the common people or the others, including those in the corridors of power may not know is very often an open and shut case to a reporter or an Editor. Since December 29 last year, with the exception of one day, all newspapers based in Imphal went off the press to protest the arrest of a senior Editor, A Mobi. The charges leveled against him are many and we prefer not to go into it, as the matter is already in Court and we do not want to be pulled up for contempt of Court.

But what should be clear to the police and the public at large is the very fact that this is the first time that the journalist fraternity has come out in full strength in support of an arrested Editor. Mr. A Mobi was not the first journalist to be booked and jailed and he will not be the last either, given the situation under which the media functions here, but the point to be noted is the spontaneous response of the journalist fraternity to the arrest. If the cops have any sense, then it should be clear to them, that the journalists under the All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union, were not ready to buy their story, because of the person that Mobi is.

We usually shy away from singing paeans to anyone, but this time we have to state certain facts and that is, Mr. Mobi would not have elicited such a positive response from his colleagues, if his credentials or character were under any doubts. A man of integrity, is how he is viewed and understood amongst the journalists in Manipur and surely, he could not have pulled the plug over everyone’s eye and adopt a Jekyll and Hyde personality without arousing any suspicion. This brings us back to the question of abusing power and in the process circumventing justice.

By the way, Mr. Chief Minister Sir, was any case lodged or FIR taken up when a number of militants were found relaxing in the cool comforts of their hosts, the political leaders, at Babupara sometime back. Or maybe, the police may have a better explanation!

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

Share this post:

Related Posts

Comments are closed.