The question we need to ask the government is how committed is the new government and its council of ministers ? How different will the BJP –led coalition government be than the last one ?
For example, let us take the forest minister Th Shyamkumar trying to curb timber smuggling. Shyamkumar usually takes a media team with him during his foray into the forest areas and seizing clandestine timber operations. At the same time, the minister lets a convoy of 16 fully loaded trucks slip right under his nose. The trucks came out of Moreh the same day that he went to the border town. The million dollar question is how were the trucks able to bypass the check posts at Moreh town and pass the Tengnoupal and Khudengthabi check posts unchallenged.
Further, other trucks also were seized at Kangpokpi by the Assam Rifles the following day. Minister Shyamkumar points that he sought help from the Army, the para-military and the police. And he stated as that, he himself is not able to go ‘timber smuggling hunting’ with his entourage all the time. To the observer, it is evident that not even passenger vehicles are spared and tight scrutiny is done by the said check posts along the Moreh to Imphal road. This is testament for every individual who has traversed the Moreh-Imphal road. So, how did the 16 trucks slip by? There is obviously more than what meets the eye.
Trade along the roads of the hill districts are obviously controlled by gun toting elements and which ever organization they claim to be from. The unarmed forest guards have no choice but to comply to the diktats from those quarters .The sources culled point that a fee is paid to the concerned authority, or authorities, may it be state or non-state to let illegal goods pass. In this case, timber loads which are humongous and cannot be hidden like drugs or gold biscuits. So, the case here is clear. With enough influence and money power, one can pass any load along the national highways unchallenged.
Another fact that the forest minister needs to introspect is that he does not have to be on a timber smuggling hunt all the time. He just needs to strengthen the system that prevents the timber cartel from conducting ‘a walk in the park’ smuggling operation. A minister needs to authorize the subordinates and to make changes to the administration where lacking. The statement of the forest minister that he cannot capture every smuggler himself can be translated to that if being the sports minister, one needs to participate in every tournament held in the state and come out victorious. It is up to the readers to judge the comment of the minister for themselves and how much water it holds.
Well ! Politicians will be politicians and it is unwise to expect a sea change in any short of political behaviour and many are adept at pulling the wool over the public’s eye.
The essence of a free press is to call a spade a spade and it is the foremost duty to check the perpetration of corruption and nepotism happening as a result of political connivance, to have high office and use it to garner personal benefits. The media must draw the line so that the government do not cross the line, perhaps so that the government exchequer do no need to augment unnecessary losses and for holistic development to take place. All is in the interest and along the lines of justice, truth and liberty and some of us do hold on to that.
Not to irk the chief minister , but he also cannot come clean on certain matters, that too on the same investigations that his government initiated. What goes on the grapevine holds certain truth and fiction and a responsible media knows and verifies how much as per the situation and issue. The duty of the press is to be a watchdog and that will not necessary entail that the ‘dog’ is barking under the wrong tree. There is a song by Bob Marley, along which lines say “ You can fool some people some time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” We in the media also hum along similar lyrics.
Imphal Free Press Editorial . Leader Wirter: Paojel Chaoba