The Army checking police vehicles was not uncommon in Nagaland in the pre-Ceasefire era. Such occurrences though are unheard of today. And rarer it is to witness police personnel frisking police personnel in public.
Odd as it may sound, recently, the Nagaland police had a surprise up its khaki sleeve by carrying out a reportedly “surprise check” of its own vehicles. May have or may not have been a PR exercise, it came as a pleasant surprise that not only instilled trust in the state police but also the notion of a police department that meant business, at a time when hectic electioneering was on in a state known for copious poll expenditure by candidates, voting malpractice and violence.
This comforting notion, however, gets challenged when the supposed preventive exercise was not followed up by details, from the Police Headquarters, about contraband catch, if any.
It further belies expectation when the enforcement authority, including the police and state Election office limits information-sharing to seizure memos containing broad numbers about cash, alcohol and other contraband without details about where, when, from whom and under what circumstances.
Another visible lack is a tendency to avoid finding closure to clear violations of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) as opposed to pressing of charges. A recent example would be the reported interception of five vehicles in Mokokchung and the confiscation of illicit IMFL from the convoy of vehicles, which also included a Nagaland government car. The Election office as well as the Mokokchung police has yet to go public with the investigation, if there has been any.
It is understood official investigations are bound by certain legal protocol before the enforcement agencies can go public with finer details. But, if past elections are any indication, hardly has there been any closure.
There are other illustrations belying the overt display of normalcy, often rendered in official parlance as “situation under control.” One is the open display of might by supporters with impunity, while the candidates feign ignorance to the juvenile bravado and the Election authority turning a blind eye.
The violence in the 2 Dimapur II Assembly seat on February 18 was a case in point. There was a clash, which was accompanied by the customary back and forth between the opposing teams defending their grounds.
The greater tragedy was a ‘whodunit’ syndrome overcoming the incident rather than asking how the Election authority allowed it to happen at a time when the MCC was in effect, over and above heightened security deployment on account of the elections.
The MCC is derived from an Act of Parliament and it is incumbent upon the Election authority to maintain the integrity of the electoral process than the perceived accommodating get over with approach. As for the political parties and their candidates, they are as much responsible for the conduct of their supporters.
Further, it would be prudent on the part of the Election authority putting a curb on ill-informed commentators masquerading as the social crusader on digital media platforms.
The writer is a Principal Correspondent at The Morung Express. Comments can be sent to [email protected]