Beware of torture under custody and communal colouring

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A short video clip depicting torture of a ‘captive’ by the Manipur Commandoes appeared viral for some days on social media. An overpowered man, handcuffed, blindfolded and dumped inside a police vehicle; was pulled downed, forced prostrated on a rough ground and kicked upon for some moments by at least two personnel. While a person from behind would video record the scene, a voice would justify the torture on the ground that it was a preemptive method to create fear and discourage others from attacking police. In fact, it was a retaliation against two ambushes on 21st February 2017 that had inflicted casualties on the police in Noney District, Manipur. The man was allegedly involved in the ambushes.

'Beware Of Torture Under Custody And Communal Colouring' – an article sent by Dr. #MalemNingthouja, who is the founder of Campaign for Peace & Democracy Manipur (#CPDM)Click http://kanglaonline.com/2017/02/beware-of-torture-under-custody-and-communal-colouring/ to read.

Posted by KanglaOnline – Gateway to North East India on Saturday, February 25, 2017

The ambushes must have created disarray among the victim police. But they are expected to be more resolute in maintaining psychological calmness. The objective necessity of maintaining ‘law and order’, ‘self-defense’ and preemptive offensive cannot be the pretext to misuse the power they enjoy. The video clip might have satisfied the psychological craze of certain infuriated sections. When it is being judged from the perspective of human rights, any form of torture cannot be justified. International humanitarian law and conventions, such as the common article 3 of the Geneva Convention 1949 had clearly laid down certain minimum principles that are to be followed when dealing with war prisoners. The ‘torture’, depicted in the video clip, violated the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment 1987. The fact that India have neither ratified CAT nor enacted a law against torture cannot be a license for the law enforcing agents to indulge in torture. Physical integrity, dignity and security of all prisoners must be defended. There is in need of an official investigation into the matter.

The police would obviously react, especially, in this case, when the ambushes were laid to discouraging the Home Minister from visiting his home constituency. Many suspect a nexus between political opportunism, electoral campaign and militancy. Whether those were planned by the Home Minister himself or by his political opponents for the upcoming election or a regular affair of some insurgent groups had not been proven. But there are some communally orchestrated sectarian reactions against the torture and arrest. This is expected as there are attempts to politically interconnect community sentiments, insurgency and ambushes. But the propaganda that identifies the State and police with a particular community cannot be justified.

If the desire is for justice and against torture, the effort should have been towards mobilising peoples across communities for a common cause. The silence on the part of many against torture and the prompt communal reaction to it on social media by some sections are equally disgracing. If the desire is for conducive peace and stability, the effort should have been towards condemning armed conflict in toto and demanding conducive dialogue. It is irrational to justify killing by one section and condemning killing by other sections. To create the condition for a conducive dialogue there is in need to carry out more rational ideological and political mobilisation across communities and boundaries. This cannot be achieved by adopting narrow sectarian and communal lines.

The article is submitted by Dr. Malem Ningthouja, who is the founder of “Campaign for Peace & Democracy (Manipur)”.

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