Condemnations continue to pour in from different sections of the people over the State police’s brutalities meted out to student protestors in the ongoing agitation for implementation of the Inner Line Permit system in Manipur. Haughty display of the State police brute was evident, particularly during the July 25 agitation that took place at the DM college campus. Media footages of the event show how dastardly the police swooped down on the protesting students. The students were seen running here and there inside the campus, apparently after they were dispersed by tear gas shells. What followed next was appalling. Students were individually hunted down and were thrashed ruthlessly. They were flocked inside an empty hall at the campus. They were made to sit in a row, and each of them was kicked one after another. They were kicked so hard that some of them almost cling to the opposite wall. Are these a new formula for law enforcement? What about the words they used while chasing the students? Is “haatlo-haatlo” (kill-kill) a new slogan of the State police department? If these are the ways to control an agitating group of citizens, who are young and delicate, then we have no qualms in saying that it is nothing but an act of timidity; an act, unfitting to be meted out even to war criminals. We do not however refute the primacy of law enforcing agency in maintaining order in the society. We also recognise the kind of pressure the personnel have to go through while performing their duties. They are entitled to use legitimate force whenever the need arises. But this does not warrant them to act like the characters of fantasy movies, wherein the characters enjoy supreme authority of bulldozing anyone on their way, just to please the crowd. It is again needless to remind that the police are the people who are trained in so many ways. This includes the training of crowd control. However, the recent incident of atrocities in the DM college campus entails that something have gone wrong with their trainings. Or perhaps, they are not trained at all. It is worth recalling that the Home department in the wake of the June 2001 agitation against the cease-fire agreement realised the need to equip the State police with modern tools of crowd control. Thereafter, we have seen State police going through a modernisation process, with good numbers of water cannon and riot control vehicles. Substantial amount of public money are invested in this kind of modernisation, the amount of money which could be better used for social welfare schemes in the State. Has the modernisation serve any purpose, rather than the use of brute force? On the other hand, the agitating students cannot claim to be taking out ‘peaceful and democratic’ movement by throwing stones to the police. No doubt, the movement was intensified in view of the ongoing Assembly session, to push the issue of ILP into the Floor of the House. The intensification of the movement during the session suggests political maturity and a deep understanding of the democratic essence vis-à-vis political issues and demands, on the part of the agitators. However, the need for drawing a tactical line of agitation is called for, as far as the involvement of the students in the movement is concerned. And this should be the responsibility of the leaders who are spearheading the movement. The rest are in the hands of the highly respectable and privileged sixty people of the State.
Leader Writer: Senate Kh