Friday, December 02, 2022

Dying twice at once

By EMN Updated: Jan 06, 2014 1:41 am

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he narration of the night Hokhetoli A.Sumi (a mother grieving for her murdered son) rushed him to hospital with hope against hope for his survivival is breaking, horrific and reeks of insensitivity and highhandedness of the IRB personnel on duty.
Any person who was present at the funeral service of her son Akivito Sumi, a class ten student of Christian Higher Secondary High School, Dimapur and also now learning of her traumatic experience with the IRB personnel will wonder how she made it through the night to tell the tale.It was with a sense of urgency and concern that the mother of Akivito who was murdered by his very own tribesman, namely, Vikheho Awomi, wrote to local papers her traumatic experience while taking her seriously injured and bleeding son for treatment on that fateful night of December 28.
Her shock and horror to see her other two sons who she had sent ahead to the hospital being stopped by IRB personnel and made to kneel on the ground, beaten by rifle butts and threatened to be shot, abused and handcuffed.
Despite her appeals while still clutching her bleeding son, the IRB personnel did not bother to listen to anything sane and while the boys were being taken to the lock-up, their uncle fortunately appeared and after much persuasion managed to get them free. By that time, the boys were already traumatized and angry. And her own sense of despair must surely have been close to being over the edge in the situation.
The Nagaland IRB has proved its mettle along with other Battalions of the NAP in Chattisgarh, New Delhi and elsewhere and in the process brought the State laurels. So then, why this unexpected behaviour on that fateful night against innocent boys and their mother who only wished to save the bleeding boy who was mercilessly pounded with a brick when he tried to defuse a quarrel between two others?
True it is, the IRB personnel are sent on duty at all times during communal violence but more so especially during the night hours in places like Dimapur and other urban places including the State capital. It is also true that they are on duty at the most trying times. But that is their avowed function and the public in general tend to feel more secure for it.
However, they need to be also instilled with the vagaries of multi-cultural aspects of the people in most urban places and how to rise to the occasion by dealing with situations as they legally warrant.
Like the irrefutable law of the sea, their prime duty is first and foremost preservation of human life and law which must take precedence over all other considerations. But on that night, they apparently were lacking in their commitment.
It is to be here mentioned that unlike various other government departments appointments to which, despite genuine cases, have been marred by numerous backdoor entries—perhaps mostly unprovable (in a court of law), bribery also, the police department has been, by and large, comparatively cleaner.
The recruits who are at least Class VIII passed are mainly drawn from the rural areas which comprise the majority of our population. And they are usually physically fit as it were. It is also to be presumed that they have been thoroughly trained professionally, that is.
They are also fortunate that with their education of minimum Class VIII they were able to get such a secure job. True, the initial concern must have been for their pay, emoluments, social and financial security and perhaps even adventure. But their role and contribution to welfare and security of the society they serve (that is their very own people) need no emphasis.
What they may probably be lacking is understanding the nuances that are always abundant in an urban and pluralistic society like Nagaland or anywhere else. Hence, the unrestrained and misplaced enthusiasm on their part against the innocents. Such an incident is not the first but one of many ever since the IRB was first raised over ten years ago.
Here, the moot question is not mainly for the Home Minister, Secretary, and Director of the department concerned to answer for. The root cause goes into something deeper—that of inadequate command and control which lie squarely upon the shoulders of the immediate commanders and their commanders in the uniformed hierarchical order concerned.
At this juncture—at the very beginning of a hopeful New Year—we have been beset by much unwarranted tragic happenings. Apart from political and communal flare-ups, even personnel of the 5th NAP Company posted in New Delhi have gone to town highlighting alleged anomalies in their pay structure as also the sub-standard quality of their rations in the nation’s capital. This was recently preceded by allegations of Nagaland Police (NP) personnel harassing travelers on the national and state highways.
What it all boils down to is that the higher-ups in the police department need to introspect deeper into the shortcomings and do their utmost to maintain their otherwise fine reputation as a disciplined and law enforcing force. The police force does not only comprise the NAP and the IRB. It also encompasses the NP (Nagaland Police) otherwise called the DEF (District Executive Force), the Traffic section, signals, supply, police project et al. It is equivalent to an Army Division, perhaps even greater in number and responsibility and with a huge financial outlay.
As a matter of fact, despite a slightly better reputation, the police engineering project has several shortcomings which in turn affects the overall outcome of the projects initiated well on paper at least.
The incumbent DGP, Besusayo Kezo, is the first Naga IPS (not conferred) Officer to have taken over the reins of office. Perhaps, he may like to think over what Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) first said, “An Army is as strong as its weakest soldier.”
Over a century and a quarter later, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel (1891-1944) of the German Army, and known as the “Desert Fox” (Der Wüstenfüchs) during World War II, repeated the same quote. He also said, “Good soldiers, bad officers; however don’t forget that without them we would not have any civilization.”
Both Napoleon and Rommel were great military leaders as their exploits have proved. Another common trait they both had was that they were masters in the military art of withdrawal operations during war.
As a people, we Nagas may not have an illustrious history, for instance, like the French or the Germans, Americans and the British. However, we have our unique traditions of hospitality and chivalry, good neighbourliness (when we are not fighting each other), honesty, hardworking nature and even sense of brotherhood when the need arises. Are we to lose all these qualities in the mad scramble of modern day illusions of being an inferior civilization? And trying pitifully to be like the Joneses of other cultures?
Rommel had further said, “One must not judge everyone in this world by his qualities as a soldier; otherwise, we should have no civilization.”

By EMN Updated: Jan 06, 2014 1:41:52 am