Thuimui begged for forgiveness to let him go, but no one listened

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MANY YEARS ago a thief was caught in one of the districts in Manipur and beaten to death by the public calling it justice, mob justice. Thuimui (name changed) died the following day due to internal bleeding. The writer recalls, he was beaten the entire night black and blue mercilessly.

But the night before Thuimui died, he was publicly shamed. He was paraded in the street at night from locality to locality. In the parade, people took turns to kick the thief from behind, his hands tied, chanting ingloriously, “A thief is caught!”

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During the public parading, at one instant, Thuimui tried to escape under the cover of darkness, fearing his life, but the crowd was too big for him to surmount. People carrying torch lights went after him angry and violent, he was caught, yet again. The thief, Thuimui begged for forgiveness to let him go, but no one listened. That particular night in spring season, after he was caught trying to escape, Thuimui remained still and took the beating — maybe he somehow knew it was his end. And it was!

There is another crucial detail that the writer observes shouldn’t be missed. Thuimui was a drug addict.

The writer who witnessed the entire schizophrenia, as he puts it, on that dark night says he recalls why the thief was a drug addict is because, Thuimui’s hands were checked by one mob vigilante and found quite a few prominent syringe marks on his veins. Then the vigilantes punched and slapped the thief even harder, as if Thuimui had murdered someone. The writer observes that Thuimui was treated more inhumanly because he was a drug addict.

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The writer’s observation:

1. If anyone, anywhere sees a thief or a rapist or an adulterer [this happens in this part of the world] is caught, please let the LAW take its due process and hand over ‘accused’ to the competent authority.

2. Exposing children to such experience — public shaming, public beating, and public justice — would leave a lasting adverse effect during their formative years. Study suggests that Adverse Childhood Experiences (violence, abuse etc.) are potentially those traumatic events that will effect their adulthood.

3. The simplistic mindset that mob justice is a mainland problem is a fallacy.

4. The civil society and religious institutions has a role to play to mitigate such events happening.

The writer must have been 14-year-old then and still bears the burden of this horrific incident.

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