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Op-Ed

Lawless Christian intolerance

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By EMN Updated: Mar 09, 2015 10:12 pm
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 Khekiye K. Sema

[dropcap]5[/dropcap]th March 2015 will go down as another dark day of shame and ignominy for the entire Christian community living in the State of Nagaland…whether physically having participated in that insane rampage or not. The Nagas forgot all Christian values and abandoned all Christian sense of justice with extreme prejudice, intolerance and irrationality. Defining the truest character of a people emerge from the darkest recess of trials and failure we face along the way. Thus far, we as a people have mostly measured up to dishonourable strains, unbecoming of a Christian identity. This disgraceful, indefensible event ought to help the Nagas to prayerfully admit the devil in us and pick up painful lessons from it to galvanise our future on a more reliable and tested foundry of true Christian sense of justice and fairness.At the outset, let me unambiguously state that I have done the best I can to highlight the dangers of an escalating presence of IBI in Nagaland in my earlier writings and am in no way sympathetic to their arrogant unwelcomed excesses. Necessarily, their ouster from our land remains a primary task that the sleeping Government of Nagaland needs to seriously wake up to and address before this impending nightmare destroys our very existence. Having said this however, no civilised society will ever condone the barbaric justice that was meted out to Syed Farid Khan, even if he was then suspected to be an IBI rapist. Was it fair? Under a civilised law of the land, he had a right to be considered innocent till proven guilty in the Court of Law. Nagas have a tendency of demeaning our customary laws to justify any arbitrary action when questioned, without really understanding that our forefathers essentially based their actions on a sound footing of natural justice. Some may argue that the naked public parade of Syed Farid Khan and finally lynching him is in keeping with the Naga customary law. This would be a gross misrepresentation. There is no denying that our ancestors did indeed indulged in such customary practices of chopping off the hair, stripping the culprit naked and publically parading and shaming a proven defaulter with a clear intention of discouraging others from doing the same. What should not be forgotten however is that such a practice would become relevant only when the accused has been proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and NOT BEFORE… It certainly did not involve slaughtering the culprit in the aftermath. Syed Farid Khan was an accused. He was awaiting the due process of law, yet to be convicted for the crime he was accused of. It is imperative that the Government of Nagaland carry out an introspective analysis as to why it had become so easy to incite a mob frenzy to take command. Over the years, the public have been persistently watching in utter frustration, habitual offenders being released on bail, more often than not, by the Courts. The Courts unburden its responsibility by pointing figures at the Police for their indifferently presented evidences against the accused resulting in the offenders being allowed to eventually go scot free after the incident recedes from public memory. The definitive assumption that suspected offender like Syed Farid Khan was capable of bribing his way out from this jam like all the rest would have been a strong subconscious conclusion that would have helped trigger such uncontrolled mob frenzy, even more so against an “IBI rapist” that the public assumed him to be as projected in the print media, at the time of the incident. While not condoning the dastardly and gruesome action of the people in any way, this incident is a clear expression of citizens having lost faith in the system and their Government. The Government of Nagaland must promptly and pointedly address the critical fault line of uncoordinated mismanagement prevalent between General Administration, Police and Judiciary, before another Syed Farid Khan happens all over again.
The unsubstantiated street talk and conjectures throw up a varied picture that the whole sordid event was not a cut and dried case of ‘rape’ as has otherwise been painted in the print media. The street story also seems to portray a sleazy depiction of a Naga Pimp (NP) making arrangement for a willing client and the deal going sour on the issue of payment for the services rendered. Now that the mob temperature has subsided…this is a question being posed to all our readers to consider in cool contemplation…Do Nagas condone the role of the lowly creatures, the Naga Pimps, involved in the trade of “Our Own Selling Our Own”? The whole episode sounded more like a consensual sex rather than ‘rape’, especially for the fact that the act of rape was supposed to have been committed within the controlled confines of a hotel. According to the CCTV footage of the hotel lobby, Mr. Syed Farid Khan was first seen signing in and a moment later being followed by the girl in question concealing her face. What was the girl in question doing with someone she probably did not even know well enough to be closeted in a hotel room if not for her false sense of security that an NP was behind her? Did the girl in question raise an alarm and did the hotel management hear such a commotion, if raised? It is hard to believe that someone would willingly follow a ‘rapist’ to a den to be raped…no matter what the medical report may say. There are scores of such relevant questions that need answers…being fully aware that there can be no smoke without the proverbial fire. Even the print media ought to have taken some initiative by now to deploy investigative journalism to afford a balanced picture for the public in an explosive event such as this…not just carry news fed to them by the authorities. The sad end result has culminated in a totally shameful disaster. This is an exceptional circumstance of an all round system failure inclusive of the Fourth Estate. It is extremely important that the facts of the matter is transparently made known to the public at the earliest and put all such unsubstantiated speculations to rest.
It is commendable that the Legitimate Muslim Community (LMC) of Nagaland has sent out a positive signal for peaceful coexistence. However, as a reminder to what I had once said in their school children’s felicitation programme some years back at Dimapur…we are surely heading for an uncertain trying times. The influx of IBIs is vitiating the atmosphere and has all the potentiality of stirring up another storm in the future. A time may come when the clear distinction of LMC members, (many of whom have settled in Dimapur even before it had become a commercial hub), could get confused with the identities of the IBIs…as has become quite apparent in the case of Syed Farid Khan. It was an unbiased clear hearted suggestion that they begin a well regulated census registration of their own legitimate kind to ensure such unfortunate mix-up does not occur. If the Apex Muslim Council had such a record in place, they could have immediately clarified the legitimate status of Syed Farid Khan…then the disastrous story may have been different perhaps.
At the end of the day, one can only hope and pray that our epic failure to abide by the law will not unleash a serious backlash against the Nagas elsewhere, especially all our children and relatives studying or working in the cosmopolitan cities of the mainland. While Nagas may think that they are the masters in their small little pond, there is a wider ocean out there that demands temperance of our Christian attitudes, which we profess to be a cut above other religion without the visibility of such a claim being displayed in action, and to respect the law of the land as much as we expect the mainland to adopt the same yardsticks in their dealings with our kind. It would do well for the Naga Christians, young and old, to remember at all times what Matthew, Chapter 7:12 has to say…”So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets”.
The writer is IAS (Rtd)
Forest Colony, Kohima

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By EMN Updated: Mar 09, 2015 10:12:39 pm