The litmus test for any self-professed progressive country regardless of the political situation or ideological leanings is the willingness coupled with the right amount of political will to accept its weaknesses and drawbacks, respect the rights and freedom of its citizens without any distinction, and above all to ensure justice is dispensed in the most effective and efficient manner. In a country where freedom is portrayed to be guarded with a fervent zeal and rights of its citizens are claimed to be respected and protected, the contrasts to these claims as experienced by the common people cannot be stressed enough. Might is right and judging by the manner in which the less powerful or influential mortals are prepared to go the extra mile to appease the high and the mighty and be in their good books, power will continue to be an attribute to be revered and feared, overlooking the fact that the very power most of us so regarded as unattainable and unapproachable have its genesis in the universal suffrage of the common people.
This glaring example of the chasm that has existed between the optimistic projections of the government and the ground reality has once again been pushed to the forefront of public debate with the admission of the state’s once-dreaded encounter specialist Head Constable Thounaojam Herojit of being a part of a large number of fake encounters in Manipur between 2003 and 2009 which propelled the state to the top spot of having the maximum number of fake encounters in 2008-09 according to NHRC date. The more pertinent question which would put a lot of how things work –read arranged- within the power structure of the state government of that time in true light is the why of it. Why did Herojit decided to wait till 2016 to make the sensational disclosure, or more important, what compelled him to make such a damning disclosure? Having moved the Supreme Court with his sensational disclosures, the very foundations of power in the state will undoubtedly be shaken, and heads will definitely roll. The past has indeed started catching up and the public might very well be treated to a glimpse of the unspoken wish for justice to prevail which, at that point of time would have been akin to declaring one’s death wish.
Hopefully, the era of state-sponsored terrorism has seen its last days. And hopefully the brave disclosures and sensational revelations of Herojit, despite the unmistakable animosity and threat to his very existence such a step will bring, will pave the way for a more tolerant, humble and productive society which can focus on collective and inclusive development. Thounaojam Herojit is asking for justice- and is prepared to face the consequences for his own actions. But what about those who sanctioned him the authority to carry out such excessive and mindlessly violent acts? Evidently, there still are machinations in motion with the objective of hampering the progress of the case.
For now, the public need to repose its trust in the judiciary, however difficult it might turn out to be, and follow the progress as we let the law run its course. But that does not in any way mean that the public will take things for granted and accept anything presented to them at face value. Miscarriage of justice, particularly of this incident will more than likely tear down the judiciary and ignite the tinder of discontent and deception.
Imphal Times Editorial