|NE India: PRESS RELEASE ON THE CALLOUS RESPONSE OF THE ASSAM RIFLES|
Lamka:18th April, 2011: The groundswell of disapproval and dissent in matter relating to the brutal torture of Churachandpur District Students’ Union (CDSU) volunteers by the personnels of the 46 Battalion under the 27 Sector Assam Rifles carries ominous portents and could have potentially disastrous consequences for the human rights of the indigenous tribal people of Manipur in general and in Churachandpur District in particular.
The Foundation is categorically perturbed and appalled beyond belief by the callous response of the Assam Rifles against the striking students who, to the extent of sacrificing one academic calendar year had called “chakka Bandh” to stir the conscience of those at the helm of power demanding their legitimate rights. The fact that one of the victims is feared to lose his hearing is indeed horrifying and heartrending. The Foundation is also equally disturbed by malicious counter claims/reports of the incident that it was a concocted, run – of – the – mill story to defame and malign the Assam Rifles.
The unwarranted and unfortunate incident that occurred on 11/4/2011 has opened the Pandora’s Box, unleashing fear psychosis among the general public of Churachandpur District. Just one thing that one can be downbeat about is that there would be more of such torture, force interrogation unwarranted arrest et al, aided and assisted by the media purportedly to blur and confuse the public perception of the hard and harsh reality. This is the only inference possible, given the Assam Rifles, the oldest Police Force in the country,is more conversant with confrontation and war then with finding the middle ground and advancing peace.
Raised initially as ‘Cachar Levy’, the Assam Rifles with its projected precept “Friends of the Hill People” is not without its pretence. The catch of the phrase is that it is tinge with “compassionate conservatism” which has become oxymoron and an inaccurate evaluation of its intended objective. The case of its officer verbally slurring vile and the dehumanizing words upon a student leader, smack of racial arrogant and discrimination testifies its duplicity. It is no surprise that the hiatus between the intended and actual results keeps widening.
Reiterating its commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and having resolute faith in India’s democratic process, the Foundation would want to lay out few posers to the District Administration-
1. In order to prevent the District from descending into a situation in which the ‘law of the jungle prevails over the rule of law’, the public deserves to know the truth about the implicit civil military relation and the extent in which the act or in action of Assam Rifles and others are tested against the cannon of the rule of law and within the ambit of democratic norms and procedures. It is pertinent to point out here that the Foundation has been receiving complaints of various kinds relating to the unnecessary harassment of innocent and poor civilian in the interior villages,not to mention the town area and its vicinity.
2. Needless to say, Assam Rifles is obliged to perform a dual role of maintaining internal security in the state and in guarding the Indo-Burma border. Bereft of a place in the border areas the Assam Rifles are stationed in the heart of the town.
Has the state forfeited law and order, a state subject to the Assam Rifles?
3. What internal security problem has the District faced that military adventurism is not only encouraged but given a free hand to maintain law and order; a baffling and ridiculous but serious question that needs to be addressed to pacify the mentally agonized general public?
4. Has the administration lose its faith in the credibility of State forces that the administration has to facilitate and pave the way for the Assam Rifles to intervene in the name of struggle against public security. “Where truth is replaced by silence,
that silence is a lie”? The public deserves the right and accurate answer. In pursuance of the above issue being considered, the Foundation with resolute firmness calls upon the perpetrators and other forces stationed in the District to rethink its policies and strategies as old cards may no longer work particularly during Suspension of Operation (SoO) dispensation.
Zomi Human Rights Foundation
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