Manipur’s women march, urge an end to ‘mob justice’

Incidents of vigilante mobs beating up accused, including in courts, have risen
For many nights over the past month, Manipur has been witnessing torchlight processions in the valley districts, with the mostly women marchers demanding, among other things, an end to mob violence directed at those accused of crimes. Over the last few years, at least three persons in Manipur, and two in neighbouring Nagaland, have been victims of mob lynchings. The apprehension of local mobs rendering vigilante justice has even forced the police to spirit away a woman and a man from Manipur. The duo, who are accused of killing a police inspector in order to steal his vehicle, have been placed in the custody of the police in Nagaland, at an undisclosed location, while they await trial. Pishakmacha, a middle-aged woman activist said, “We demand an end to mob crime in this State.” Renubala, a young housewife from Thoubal district who is also participating in the marches said, “A man is not guilty unless a court says so. The government should prevent such mob trials and the beating to death of people. The family members of the accused persons also end up being banished from the locality for ever. And the following month, a local court remanded Chaoba and his parents to judicial custody. The police, however, subsequently learned that Naobi’s mother had been frequently visiting a house in Thoubal district’s Tekcham belonging to one Sanayai, who it was discovered had secretly married Naobi. The police also found Kunjarani often providing care for an infant. Interrogation established that the baby was the child of her “missing daughter” Naobi and that from the very beginning Kunjarani knew that her daughter was not missing but had been living in Ukhrul district with her new husband. The police arrested Naobi, her mother Kunjarani and the new husband and Chaoba was subsequently acquitted by the court. However, Chaoba’s house had already been destroyed. Importantly, the possible homicide of the unidentified woman who had been cremated was never investigated. On September 19, Manipur’s cabinet decided to introduce ‘The Manipur Mob Violence Control and Prohibition Bill, 2018’ in the Assembly. Chief Minister N. Biren has said that mob violence will never be tolerated or condoned. He disclosed that five persons had been arrested and some policemen suspended in connection with the lynching of Farooque Ahmed Khan, an MBA student, at Tharoijam in Imphal west district on September 13.
A. Romenkumar, a retired IPS officer who is now a High Court lawyer, told The Hindu that mob violence had reached even into court precincts. He referred to increasing incidents of persons accused of rape or murder and other heinous crimes being thrashed in the court premises, acts which he said amounted to contempt of court. “Adequate security measures should be taken so that the potential troublemakers are not allowed inside the court compound,” he added.
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