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EDITORIAL: The Trust Equation

The tenuous ties that bind the citizens of the land to the Government is based on the strong foundation of trust and confidence in each other, with the main onus of earning the trust of the people lying on the Government and not the other way round. Simply put it is a question of the Government needing to take three or four steps to earn one step of confidence from the public and there should be nothing surprising about this. For those who believe in the absolute supremacy of the State, this line of argument may not hold water, but in democracies, as seen and understood in the universal context, one of the primary duties is for the State to earn the trust and confidence of the people and in as much as it is easy to do this, it is also equally hard to achieve it.

Blame it on the manner in which the human mind functions, confidence and trust are usually the foundation on which a relationship stands or survives. Thus the modern man and woman today place so much emphasis on trust and confidence and why they feel so let down when this trust or confidence is compromised or defiled by either one of the parties. It is more or less the same with the ties between a Government, especially if it is a democracy and its citizens. There are different parameters to gauge or calculate the trust and confidence that a Government enjoys and this may be seen by observing the social conduct of its citizen.

When a demand is raised by the common folk for the State Government to rope in the service of the CBI to deal with any particular case, the message being sent out loud and clear is that the public no longer trust the State Government’s agencies and their justice delivery system. The unsaid but nevertheless symbolic meaning is not surprisingly lost to a good number of people, including leaders of political parties and this is primarily because many such people are susceptible to be blinded by the dust kicked up by their shouting and rantings against the Government. The instances are just too many to refer to but it says something very significant when the public start demanding that any sensational case be handed over to an agency which is independent of the State Government. This is primarily the reason why the people tend to always reject the proposal of a Magisterial Inquiry into any case and instead demand a Judicial Inquiry.

The reasons must be clear to all those who have an inkling of idea how differently these two inquiries can be conducted. This has become the trend that today the Congress led SPF Government, which is in its second innings, have somehow become synonymous with the investigative works of the CBI or the inquiry process of a Judicial Inquiry. An example that comes to mind immediately is the BT Road incident of 2009 when Ch Sanjit and Th Rabina were killed under contesting claims and the CBI is investigating the case, even as the one man Judicial probe under Retd Justice Aggarwal has come to its closing chapter. There should be no doubt over the question that the Government was forced to hand the case over to the CBI as well as institute a Judicial Inquiry, because it no longer enjoys the trust and confidence of the people.

This is the fact, but the biggest tragedy is those on the seats of power whose names go by the suffix of honorable Minister or MLA, have no qualms about this. The March 20 incident, in which the son of IFCD Minister N Biren has been named as the prime accused in shooting to death of a youth with his licensed gun, should be an open and shut case. Ask anyone who is remotely connected with anything to do with crimes and the activities of criminals. The decision of the State Cabinet to hand over the case to the CBI has therefore led to more questions than answers.

First, can we infer from this decision that Chief Minister O Ibobi does not want to dirty his hand or take a firm stand in dealing with the situation? Today the March 20 incident is no longer an issue, but is an incident where a young man shot another to death with a licensed gun, for reasons, which have not been spelt out clearly till date. Why is this so? Apart from the surprising and indecipherable silence maintained by the civil society organizations, including the media, one important factor for the success of the damage control exercise launched by the SPF Government, is the very act of washing their hands off the incident and handing it over to the CBI.

Apart from dodging the inevitable and opting the approach of the escapist, Chief Minister O Ibobi has himself demonstrated that he does not trust the institutions which run under him. Late in the evening of March 31, a Zilla Parishad member of Sora in Thoubal district was found killed. It did not take much time for the enraged people to put two and two together and the prime suspect was lynched without much ado. A Kangaroo Court in full show, we should say. Not only this, but the mob went after the wife of the suspected killer and lynched her too. Here we may look at this incident from different angles and one is the growing tendency of the people to take the law into their own hands and deliver justice according to their satisfaction.

A mob selecting an individual or a couple and bludgeoning them to death was something like the Halley’s Comet 20 or 30 years back. But today it is the reverse, and there have been numerous instances of the public taking the law into their own hands and executing its decision, on the premise that whatever they have done are done on the ground of justice. Such mentality reeks of something more than a group of angry people, ready to kill, and on the contrary it tells the story of the complete failure of the Government to earn the trust and confidence of the people. Time alone will tell how long a democratically elected Government can survive in such a state of disconnect between it and the public at large.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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