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By Safiur Rahaman Maibam
There is seriously a need to question the increasing incidence of mob justice in Manipur society. Is it mob justice or mob injustice? The prevailing culture is that if someone commits a crime then, instead of reporting to the police, mob frenzy takes over and the suspect is beaten up sometimes ending in his death. Many a time, the house of the suspect is burnt down, his family attacked the family members or excommunicated. And again, if someone tries to stop such acts of the mob he/she will also get the same treatment. A mob doesn’t step back even in sending the whole family of the accused into the exile (precisely making them leave their own locality). Besides, if a patient dies in a hospital (whatever the reason may be) the relatives and attendants of the patients vandalize the hospital; beat the doctors. This causes a lot of problem to other patients and attendants of the hospital. In a democratic country, people’s protest is favourable and considerable but sudden bandhs and blockades that too unannounced causes lot of problems to the people. Above that blocking of road and vandalizing vehicles by the protesters and bandh supporter are unacceptable.
By the way, when someone does a crime punishing the whole family by the mob is acceptable? Is it really justice? Who give the right to the mob to kill or exile the whole family of the accused? Even though a criminal is a criminal, beating and killing a criminal make us criminal too! So, an accused should be produced at a law court and proper trial should be done. If he/she is found to be guilty then punishment can be given according to the law of the land. Why should the mob attack an accused when police bring him for hearing in the court? This shows that people really want to take the law in their hands! Or it is also questionable that the judicial system or home department has totally failed? It may be the reason for increasing mob justice in Manipur.
Let us go through the past just for a moment and see whether mob justice is really mob justice or mob injustice? Once in a place called Tentha Marongband of Thoubal district in 2011 a man filed a missing report of his wife in Thoubal police station. And about three day later a dead body of a woman was found at Ithai Barrage. Even though the husband claimed that the women found in the Ithai Barrage was not his wife, people accused him for murdering his wife and then mob damaged the house and properties. The relatives and locality of his wife proclaimed that he is the culprit and the dead body found was his wife. Hence, the dead body was cremated at the residence of the husband( actually he is not the husband of dead woman found in Ithai Barrage). After 4 years later, when the man was released from jail his missing wife about whom he reported to police was found in Nongdam Tangkhul village of Ukhrul district with a new husband. In this particular incident who is going to be held accountable for mob injustice? Who will be responsible for the damages people have done to this innocent man?? Who will find out the truth of the dead body found at the Ithai barrage? Has the government or anyone punished those so called “people” who have put the life of this innocent man in the abyss of pain and misery?
In another incident on second of November,2015 Md Hashmad Ali of Keirao, Imphal East District,a headmaster of Keirao Makting Awang Leikai primary Madrassa was accused of trying to stealing a cow and thus caught by a mob and beaten to death. His body was recovered from Uchekon Lai Murabi Village. After the incident, JAC against the brutal killing of Md Hashmad Ali claimed that killing of Md Hashmad Ali was preplanned by a neighbour because of some land dispute and not because of stealing a cow. The stigmatisation of Pangal as thieving community should be done away with. Instead of blaming one another we should fight together against the social evil. We should try to find out the root cause of all the social evils and try to find the solution instead of blaming one another.
From the above two incidents we all know that the prevailing culture of mob justice is very dangerous one. If this system continue, it may lead to communal conflict amongst different ethnic communities, may give opportunity for persons with vested interes to kill innocent men by framing he/she as an accused. The furtherance of mob justice wouldn’t be fruitful rather the state will be within the prism of chaos and confusion from all dimensions.
The prevailing culture of mob justice (which enables people to kill, beat, exile the accused family from locality and burning down of houses without proper investigation) could be a by-product of the Armed Forced Special Power Act (AFSPA) 1958 which enables to kill anybody under mere suspicion!
The Government should dig deeper and find out the root causes of such an inhuman culture. The judicial system need to gear up and punish the culprits. People who are taking part in mob justice should also punished by law. For which investigating agencies of the state should also honestly and sincerely speed up their investigation and prosecution. Until then, people will get frustrated and more frustration will surely lead people turning into mob.
(The writer is a student of DM College of Arts,Imphal. Volunteer of Personality Development Club DM college of Arts. And a Young Debater)