Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Abduction and murder

There have been many killings along the Assam-Nagaland border that had taken place during the decades along Mokokchung or Wokha or Dimapur districts and some being of the most heinous nature such as a Naga woman who was buried alive near Golaghat sometime in the mid-90s. Incidents along Assam-Nagaland border have been highly volatile mainly due to the belligerence of the Assam Police which reacts mostly on the complaints or allegations made by those living along the border area and most of who are migrants settled to act as buffer. The 1985 incident at Merapani (Wokha) was the worst incident but its genesis had to do with acts of war by the Assam Police and the resultant consequent response of self-defence by the Nagaland Police. The recent incident along the Assam-Nagaland border at Mokokchung is another of the many incidents where the Assam Police has shown total disregard not only for people from Nagaland but also for the very rule of law. A couple from Phom-Anaki village under Mokokchung district were taken to custody by the Assam Police sometime during August 16 or so. According to Assam Police sources, the person identified as Henveih Phom was held allegedly with some arms while the woman was released. Details are still not clear but Henveih was lodged under Sivasagar district jail and the Assam Police did not inform their Nagaland Police counterpart and neither was the case referred to the inter-state border magistrates so that the rule of law was upheld. What happened is that on August 21, Henveih’s father was informed by the O.C. Assam Police of Geleki PS that his son was unwell and was asked to visit him at the Joysagar Civil Hospital. When the father rushed to the hospital, he was horrified to find Henveih’s dead body in the hospital corridor. Leaving aside the cause of death which can be explained in many ways; what is clear is that Henveih was in the custody of the Assam Police and that he was not released to Nagaland nor to his family members when he died of mysterious circumstances. The custodial death of late Henveih deserves a high-level judicial probe headed by a sitting high court judge to ascertain the facts and bring those responsible to book. A victim may die of heart attack or even some organ failure. But it is important to ascertain what had caused the heart attack or even organ failure? Simply explaining that death was due to heart failure can never be acceptable but rather it only exposes utter criminality on the part of those who are trying to shield themselves. It may also be recalled that in recent years there have been many similar acts such as on June 29, 2009 when Assam Police were accused of killing of two persons along the border between Dimapur and Karbi Anglong. Later, in 2012 the dead bodies of two females from Nagaland was discovered between Mariani and Titabar in Assam. According to reports then, the two females from Longleng had reportedly gone to do some marketing in Assam. Such cases have not been solved despite mounting pressure from Nagaland side. Such incidents do not help boost confidence of people from Nagaland side on the law enforcement agency from the other state. At a time when the border disputes in the region are being pursued through mutual dialogue, such incidents only negate the environment. The state government has to raise the issue and make it clear to Assam that such incidents especially committed by the police will not be tolerated.