Another precedent of silence

It was indeed a happy day for Nagaland ~ and for humanity ~ when the news of the rescue and release of the driver and handyman of an oil tanker, abducted on April 22, 2018, in Tuensang district, poured in, early on May 3. It is a relief that the duo is unharmed and has been hopefully reunited with their families by now. Having been abducted on April 22 and remaining untraced for almost ten day, there were concerns that the duo may have been done away with. This unfortunate incident could have been described as one with a happy ending but for the fact that the details of the abduction, the location of their captivity, the reason for their abduction and most of all the identity and apprehension of their captors are still shrouded in silence. Yes, a lot of individuals and organizations were named as those responsible for the duo’s rescue and release ~ but the silence about the captors and the failure to apprehend them so as to mete befitting punishment to them, as per the law of the land, is baffling. Who stands to gain from this silence? Who stands to gains ~ who stood to gain ~ from such silence in the past too? Kidnapping is a very serious crime ~ as much as extortion, rape murder, etc. Now, when another precedent of silence about the culprits, followed by allowing them to go scot free, is set once again, the culture of lawlessness is facilitated, as much as the culture of impunity is already set. Now, let’s ask a couple of uncomfortable questions: If the identity of the abductors is revealed and they are apprehended to face the long arms of the law, would the Naga “peace process” be jeopardized? And so as a natural corollary, was the abduction of the aforesaid hapless duo a facilitatory measure to augment the Naga “peace process”? A very serious crime has been committed within the jurisdiction of the state of Nagaland and it is the people’s right to know who committed this crime and demand that justice is delivered to the victims. It is also obligatory on the part of the state Government to deal with crimes and criminals under the appropriate sections of the law ~ it is bad enough that without the leading role played by the ENPO and several other NGOs/civil societies, by itself the Government would have been still totally at sea about the whereabouts of the abducted duo and with the passage of time and who knows what fate would have befallen of them. It is ironic that our Chief Minister is reported to have said that the Centre wouldn’t revoke the AFSPA from Nagaland as the situation is not conducive ~ of course, it isn’t because there is no governance ~ the abduction of the aforesaid duo, failure of law enforcing agencies to rescue them and nab the culprits and book them are evidence enough. Now, just imagine how we would have bayed for blood if any Naga was kidnapped anywhere outside the state. In such an event, by now our NGOs/civil societies, student, mothers and human rights organizations would have filed PIL after PIL in the Guwahati High Court, even in the Supreme Court, for any other state Government’s failure to nab and book the culprits. Against this background, let us understand and appreciate that while the move to bring about peace and reconciliation is laudable and vital for Naga society and state, it is our hypocrisy that prevents us from fully realizing our potentials as human beings ~ especially when we make the call to live without borders. It is important to understand and analyze our hypocrisy because even within our own society, silence about issues of justice and law have created mistrust, distrust, despair, suspicions, alienations, etc., and the sense of unease about each other as also the sense of abandonment (of not having anywhere to seek justice and fairness). We must thank Providence for keeping safe the lives and limbs of the hapless driver and handyman ~ otherwise our gas stations would have gone dry within days and we might not have needed the roads and bridges our Governments says it is working very hard on. If we have a moral compass, we must demand that our state Government nab the abductors of the now-released duo and book them under the appropriate sections of the law.