Far from the ‘madding crowd’

Witoubou Newmai

Amidst howls and jibes from politicians forming the social ambience in Manipur during this election time, two interesting events, far away from the ‘madding crowd’, calmly took place. On both occasions, activists from various fields, in their earnest endeavours to address issues, came together.

One event focussed on the ‘fake encounter cases’ or extrajudicial killings and the other, although a bit indistinct, dwelt on the various issues confronting the Northeast India region. The latter occasion was participated by activists and social organisation leaders from Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura.

To observers of these occasions, activists and scholars participating on both occasions seem to be indifferent to the ongoing hullabaloos of the elections, snubbing right away that the electoral politics is all about rhetoric. And so, they mean business as they sat down and concur on many concerns confronting the region.

“Deeply concerned at the undue delay of the Government of Manipur in responding to the request of the CBI/SIT to grant prosecution sanction of the police personnel charge-sheeted under various offences including murder in connection to the extrajudicial executions in pursuance to the Supreme Court judgment,” various organizations and activists came together to explore channels for the establishment of ‘Truth Commission.’

Under the theme of “Application of Transitional Justice Framework for the Families of Victims of Extrajudicial Execution in Manipur,” organizations such as Centre for Studies of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy (CSSEIP) of Manipur University, Human Rights Alert (HRA), Extrajudicial Execution Victim Families Association, Manipur (EEVFAM) and Centre for Human Rights Studies of OP Jindal Global University (JGU) discussed the issue in depth on April 13.

According human rights defenders, justice is yet to be delivered to the families of more than 1528 “fake encounter” victims in Manipur. Participating on the occasion, noted human rights defender, Babloo Loitongbam expressed that there are “limitations of the on-going investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators…” with regard to the “fake encounter” cases.

Loitongbam then harped on the “Transitional Justice (TJ) framework as defined by the United Nations.” TJ, he noted, is defined as the “full range of processes and mechanisms associated with a society’s attempt to come to terms with a legacy of large-scale past abuses, in order to ensure accountability, serve justice and achieve reconciliation.” This, according to the noted human rights defender, pertinently “needs to be invoked in Manipur today.”

Also taking part in the discussion, noted scholar Prof. Lokendra saw the proposed “Truth Commission” as a one-time clinching of the rot though it is a difficult exercise.”

The other event was the formation of the North East Forum for Indigenous People (NEFIP) by organizations based in the Northeast India region on April 3. The participants of this event resolved “to oppose anti-North East people policies of the Central government which threaten the lives, resources, habitats and demography of the region.”

Emergence of such a trend amidst the euphoria of murky election hyperbole goes on to demonstrate that there is still the other side of the society, far from the far away from the ‘madding crowd.’ It needs to be nurtured, supported and defended.