Banquo’s ghost returns

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Some ghosts never disappear altogether and come back to haunt those who were involved in resurrecting them from their places or rest. Macbeth found this out most poignantly in Shakespeare’s immortal play by the same name, and ultimately the ghost from the criminal transgression King Macbeth made out of his unwarranted ambition, spurred on by his wife, consume both husband and wife in what has been described as one of the most profound tragedies of the microcosm ever written. Macbeth’s words in utter despair in the midst of his murderous tyrannical reign that “Macbeth has murdered sleep, and therefore Macbeth will sleep no more,” convey the sense of his tortured conscience few other passages in literature has ever managed to. Macbeth murdered King Duncan to become king. He also murdered his friend Banquo to cover up his crime and to ensure the throne he wrested violently and treacherously remained with him. Portentously, it was not so much Duncan’s but Banquo’s ghost that Macbeth could not run away from. Many will agree, Macbeth’s despair have also been prophetic. Ghosts of innocent murdered men come back to haunt all involved in their murder. The broad daylight gunning down of Chungkham Sanjit, 22, inside a pharmacy on Bir Tikendrajit Road by Manipur Police commandos in what has now been established to be a blatant case of fake encounter, is proving to be one such. For the record, there was also a five month pregnant woman, Thokchom Rabina Devi, who happened to be in a nearby market, who was also killed on the same day, probably by a stray bullet.

The atrocious incident happened on July 23 morning and probably would have gone down the record as just another violent day in an insurgency torn state where threshold of public concern at lives violently lost has been raised so high that few remain alarmed for long. But nearly a month later, gritty journal Tehelka in their August 15 issue published a series of photographs passed on to them by a whistle blower in Manipur. These pictures unmistakably demonstrated Sanjit was accosted by the commandos and then after discussions amongst the latter and with their seniors, taken into a pharmacy and shot dead there. The photographs show a reluctant but unresisting young man led into the pharmacy and then brought out dead and his body deposited on a pick-up truck where Rabina Devi’s body was also already placed. A public outrage expectedly broke thereafter and this could only be placated with the institution of an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the suspension of nine of the commandos on duty at the spot on the day. It had seemed this was all there would be, and the matter would be given a closure with all or some of the nine suspended policemen punished.

Banquo’s ghost however returned in this case too. The man who actually gunned down the young man on the day, police commando Th. Herojit, who had all along during the CBI inquiry stuck to the official line that Sanjit was killed in an encounter, decided to confess to the Imphal Free Press, exactly a year ago. Herojit, who by then was aware the CBI has indicted him and some of his suspended colleagues, feared elimination after the verdict was pronounced so that the case was put to rest forever and that his confession was for his own safety. In his confession, Herojit exonerated his fellow commandos under suspension, saying he alone was involved in gunning down Sanjit, but also indicated he was acting on direct orders of a superior officer. The sensational news break led to the family of Sanjit asking for reopening of the CBI case in view of the fresh evidence that have surfaced. Expectedly, there were powerful interests determined to let this not happen and they were seemingly succeeding.

It is quite a coincidence that again exactly a year after Herojit’s decision to come out and confess to his part in the crime, and also to reveal all that he knows of how and why the crime was committed, and when Banquo’s ghost seemed somehow to have been exorcised, the CBI has decided to reopen the case. This sensation bit of information is again IFP’s lead story today. It does seem there is much truth in the fate predicted of those who use the powers of haunting spirits to advance their fortunes but are clueless how to put the spirit back to rest after their jobs are done, in the Manipuri saying: “Bhoot sanarage bhoot loisinba heitaba.”

Source: Imphal Free Press

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