Nagaland Government Drags its Feet, Justice Remains Elusive
Is this justice?
NEW DELHI: On the one hand, normalcy seems to be slowly coming back to Dimapur after a week of the horrific mob lynching, while on the other, justice for the victim appears nowhere in sight.
The rape accused, Syed Farid Khan or Sharafuddin Khan, fell a victim to a mob of hundreds fed on rumours spread by the social, and local media. The police had also branded him as an “illegal Bangladeshi immigrant” an allegation that was picked up and publicised by the media without question.
After he was killed brutally, reports finally emerged that he was not from Bangladesh, nor had he come to marry a local Naga girl for citizenship, and that the girl who had filed a complaint against him was not a minor.
In fact even the alleged “rape” because of which Khan was dragged, paraded naked for about 7 km, beaten and then hanged, is now in question with doubts being further raised due to the sudden unavailability of the medical report.
However, what makes this already dismal situation worse is the Nagaland government’s reaction, or rather the lack of it.
First, it took the government an entire day to suspend the officers on duty, in whose presence, the mob not only entered the usually inaccessible prison but also dragged Khan out of it, beat and lynched him. Also,even the Cabinet meeting which was held after the dastardly crime didn’t result in any substantial steps been taken except for a one-member committee being appointed to probe the case.
Secondly, the sluggish, unhurried and relaxed way in which the police seems to be working feeds into growing speculation of a ‘conspiracy’. Merely 47 persons have been arrested so far after almost a week , even though the photos and video clips of the killing with the faces of the assailants are available with them. Further, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Nagaland police started making arrests only on Saturday, the second day after the incident.
Furthermore, the recent announcement made by the Nagaland government amounts to a travesty of justice. The thoughtful, sympathetic government announced an ex-gratia of Rs 1 lakh to the family of the victim killed in the police firing incident in Dimapur on March 5, while Rs 50,000 each was announced for the injured.
However,the sympathies vanished when it came to the real victim. Stating that the state government has decided not to announce any ex-gratia to Khan, Nagaland Home Minister Y Patton justified the decision by calling him a “culprit”. He added that a medical report has “confirmed the rape”, though he was unable to specify which medical report the government was referring to. If this is the kind of response from the government when the case is sub judice, then one can only doubt about the veracity of the ‘facts’ that would be presented before the public.
Patton went a step ahead when he refused to own political responsibility for the unfortunate events of March 4 and 5, and instead put the blame entirely on the Dimapur district administration for failing to handle the situation.
There is more. Besides blaming the district administration, Patton also knew the reason behind the unfortunate incident-- “limited police force”. However, not a word was spoken with respect to the police personnel, even if they were limited, who let the mob lynching take place without even a murmur. A posse of cops was seen standing by as mute spectators, while the mob dragged Khan out of the prison.
Meanwhile, Dimapur town is returning to normalcy with the authorities lifting the prohibitory orders but a virtual lockdown continued.
Although curfew had been lifted on Monday, prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPc were in place and will continue to be enforced but there will be relaxation from 6 am to 6 pm with effect from March 11 till further notice.
Also, shops, business establishments, schools, colleges and institutions are now open and vehicular and public movement has also been allowed.
However, ban on internet and messaging services will continue for another 48 hours.
In another development, the Centre and the Nagaland government has been issued notice by the division bench of the Gauhati High Court on the Dimapur killing, directing the State machinery of Nagaland to ensure adequate security for all the prisoners lodged in various prisons of Nagaland. The direction was given in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Rajib Kalita on Monday.
This horrific mob lynching also rocked the Parliament, with the issue been raised both in the Lok Sabha as well as the Rajya Sabha.