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‘Custodial Death’ - When citizens are killed in their own land using colonial laws

By -Wisdom K.
       
Only a day after the Nation celebrates the enactment of the constitution of India, which made the country Republic as well as guaranteed hosts of rights to its citizens including Right to Freedom and Right to life, the security forces reportedly thrashed a man to death in Kangpokpi, making a complete mockery of human rights and our Constitution.
The Armed forces special power act, a draconian colonial law still in vogue in the Hills of Manipur robbed the people of their rights given by the Constitution of India. Many had earlier voiced their concerns to this outdated special power, which the Britishers used to contained our Freedom fighters. Custodial deaths and fake encounter deaths are the two synonyms of AFSPA  in Manipur. Why is a statute which has obnoxious clauses to take people’s lives easily be given a place in 21st century? Is it because we are tribals and our blood less-precious?
On that fateful day i.e 27th January 2020, Mr Thangboi Lhouvum, an unarmed cadre of KRA, which is a signatory of SOO with Government, was nabbed by the Assam Rifles Kangpokpi and after reportedly beating the victim black and blue, the AR handed over the victim to Kangpokpi Police, where the victim succumbed to his injurious and died in the police station. The public is furious on two counts; why is the victim mercilessly beaten by the AR and in what condition was he handed over to the Police. Why was not the victim taken to hospital by the police? Was there too many to hide? Mention may be made here that the Assam Rifle has hundreds of cases on custodial deaths and fake encounters labelled against them and the Force has recently received flaks from all counters over their alleged mishandling and molestation of a Lady IPS officer. It is no surprise that the Manipur Cabinet has passed a resolution to replace all Assam Rifle checkpost with state security forces.
Taking nothing away from the gross human right vilolations and record inhumane treatment meted out to the Hill people by the the Assam Rifles, it will be a little far-fetched to hope that public agony from security forces will end with the replacement of Assam Rifles by Manipur Police. The latter, especially its commando unit has been regarded as a trigger-happy bunch of personnels, whose presence only adds sense of insecurity to the public. Together with the Assam Rifle, the Manipur Police commando has tormented the people of Manipur  for decades now, even after Suspension of operation / cease-fire is signed by the Government with various militant groups.
It is high time concerned authority look into the prevailing law and order situation in Manipur especially in the Hills, where security forces boldened by inhumane colonial acts like AFSPA has only caused more tears to the people. That we have lost yet another precious live to custodial death in 2020 should be an eye opener as to how security forces value the lives of the tribals in General and the Kuki people in particular. It is time the Government looks into the concerned of the Kuki people and their aspirations for a rightful self governance and end their long pending political issue.

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