Editorial – Cases in Limbo


Manipur is today literally loaded with crime cases that it is today nearly impossible to even remotely guess what the exact number of cases remaining unresolved with crime investigators would be. The trouble is, not just the everyday crimes of kidnaps and homicide newspaper readers are fed with daily, but also high profile ones such as that of the kidnap and murder of a school girl and the daughter of a former minister, Lungnila Elizabeth, and that of a junior sub-editor of the Imphal Free Press, K Rishikesh, both now handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation, CBI, remain stuck without explanation. Obviously, in such matters, nothing works as they should in Manipur until and unless pressured by street protests it seems. Now that another Assembly session is coming up, it would be interesting if the matter was to be thrashed out and a debate on why very few crime cases ever get to see a conclusion comes up. This is especially important considering that justice delayed is justice denied.

It must also be said that the media in the state has not also been doing its bit. They cannot be expected to be writing about these cases consistently with the passion they evoked at the time of their coming to light, but at least on a sustained basis, they ought to have followed up these cases from time to time to ensure not everything is pushed out of public consciousness. We are aware the media can overshoot its limits too, but this is better than a total silence. A comparison between how the Delhi media handled the Jessica Lal murder case and now the Aarushi Talwar murder case should make the contrast stark. Regardless of what is being said about the Delhi media jumping the gun in its reportage of these events, there can be no dispute that thanks to them these issues continues to have a strong presence in the public domain.
It is not too late yet however. Let a beginning be made to get an estimate of the magnitude of the problem in the interest of justice and this process can most appropriately and relevantly begin on the floor of the Assembly. Let the government come out with a white paper on the status of the crime cases it is pursuing and the progress these cases have made so far. Once a database on this is available, it should be far easier to work out how many of these are worth giving fresh focus to put them to rest. It would also be known just exactly what the percentage of success the police has been having in resolving these cases. In all likelihood it would be quite an embarrassment for crime investigators, but newspaper readers would remember that every now and then the police do announce the resolution of some cases after having nabbed suspects and having them confess their crimes.

The trouble has been, as in the case of corruption, there is a big black hole to blame for all failures of investigation – insurgency. Today, gun violence deaths can be presumed to be a police case closed before it is opened. The presumption would be insurgents are behind the killing and that the case would have no meaning being pursued, as if insurgency violence is beyond investigation. This is also the reason why very often, aggrieved parties with no connections in higher places, are left to resort to make appeals to “parallel governments” through advertisements placed in local dailies in particular vernacular ones, for the latter to take up these cases and resolve them in the interest of justice. Needless to remind here that the establishment by each of its inaction on this important matter of public justice, sheds a bit of its moral legitimacy with which it holds on to the faith of the larger public. This lost legitimacy also sooner than later passes on to forces opposed to it. We would even argue that, at its most fundamental level, this widening ambiguous moral space of government legitimacy, to which the government’s inability to effectively address the justice issue contributes liberally, is where the seeds of insurgency germinate. Insurgency it has been so rightly though enigmatically pointed out is a state of mind. Addressing this state of mind must be made an equally, if not more important strategy in tackling the onerous issue of insurgency, than the constant upgrade of the military teeth of the state. The later can only contain the problem, it at all. It is only a greater attention and commitment to the former which can bring lasting solutions in sight.


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