When police mix use of excessive powers with communal colour

"Meitei mandeh, phujallu (doesn't look like meitei, thrash him)," uttered a woman among the spectators. Another added "Nupi dusu phujallu (Thrash that woman as well).

Notorious for human rights abuse and its act of hooliganism in the shadow of AFSPA, almost every youths in the state have been in the shoe of victimhood of the excessively aggressive Manipur Police at one point or the other.

In yet another incident that exposes police brutality of which the video went viral on Facebook, some policemen were seen thrashing a civilian to the extend of making a supposed life attempt by hitting with wooden batons at the head. The communally painted chanting of the onlookers have rendered the netizens with a communal narrative of “US” and “THEM”, freeing the policemen from their very act of brutality.

Having gathered the first hand information, it is learned that the whole tragedy is the unfolding of the arrogance of one policeman. Well informed about the on going curfew, civilians from Ukhrul were on their way to Imphal for an unavoidable “urgent work” were stopped by the policemen for routine check. Cooperatively as they stopped, abusive languages (Huithu, Shakthu) were hurled to these civilians, because the car they were travelling in stopped 2-3 steps ahead of the spot where they were asked to do.

As the driver approached and pleaded for a more decent way to deal with routine check, one of the police in khaki uniform hit the driver with the barrel of a gun, which marked the beginning of the whole episode.

This very incident is a classic example of inflicting pain to innocent travelers who are made to apologise. The baffling questions that remain unanswered in the mind of every sane man is that, if the travelers from Ukhrul are found violating curfew, why not deal or punish them as per the law? And judging by the same yardstick, are those public who are gathering and watching the drama immune from Covid-19 and from the curfew? Are they not the same violators of curfew? Is opening of shops an act of adherence to curfew? Is the curfew a communally selective enforcement for hill and valley? Do what extend the brutality of police is “permissible?”

Also read: TKS takes strong exception to July 23 incident at Yaingangpokpi; Urges authority to conduct impartial probe

What’s more disturbing is the communal tone of the onlookers which only emboldened the police to behave in beastly manner. “Meitei mandeh, phujallu (doesn’t look like meitei, thrash him),” uttered a woman among the spectators. Another added “Nupi dusu phujallu (Thrash that woman as well). Had the onlookers captured the incident from its very genesis, I’m certain it would have helped the viewers to make an unbiased informed judgment of the regrettable incident.

Rubbing salt to the wound is the one sided report of the media, specially the report of ISTV which is precisely the testament of those mob who incited and perpetrated the violence. It showed sheer lack of interest in finding out the truth objectively.

To bridge the trust deficit between the state machinery and its citizens, it is not only desirous but necessary that a departmental enquiry be initiated against such police personnels. Having said all that, to fight the repressive state apparatuses, it is always prudent that one looks beyond the parochial communal lens and posses a sense of collective beyond one’s ethnicity. A broadly defined collective is the repository of strength.

Reingampam Lunglo. reingampamlunglo@gmail.com, hryaorei@gmail.com. Views are personal

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