No One is Above the Law
Khekiye K Sema
Ending the year on a sour comical note is not a preferred choice but a circumstantially induced one after enduring a public bath with added compliment of tear gas on 15th December 2016 at Khermahal junction, Dimapur. This was the first public bath that I have had and perhaps more will be forthcoming in 2017 judging from the determined stand of Chief Minister of DAN Government intent on protecting the interest of his friends living on the shady side of the public grazing pasture.
Quite right Mr. Chief Minister…”No one is above the law and no individual or group should take law into their own hands”…which includes the highhandedness of the Government abusing the law with such vindictive impunity. Knowing well that the Government was unable to stop a rally being proposed in the private premises of NRL gas station near the city tower, Section 144 CrPC was hastily declared within 100 meters radius of the city tower as a prohibited area for public gathering. As law abiding citizens ACAUT shifted the rally venue way beyond the curfew zone to Khermahal Junction in compliance. There was no real compelling reason for the government to spew its corrupted venom on a peaceful crowd. The joke of an ending year 2016 is that of a Government literally chasing down ACAUT’s peaceful rally all over Dimapur on a comical excuse that “inconvenience would be caused to Christmas shoppers during a festive season”. Can any sensible Naga accept this as a reasonable ‘law and order’ threat to warrant the imposition of Section 144 CrPC? Was the CM so adamant to stop the ACAUT rally at all cost because some of his ultra-rich VVVIPs were suddenly slated for Christmas shopping in Khermahal junction area at around the same time of ACAUT rally that would have caused them inconvenience?… Or was Mr. Chief Minister making an effort to share his pre-Christmas PJ with his people? We on the receiving end did not enjoy his joke one bit! Damn right Mr. Chief Minister…”peace and harmony cannot be maintained in such a manner” by attempting to drown the legitimate voice of the people against corruption with water cannon, tear gas and ‘lathi charging’ an absolutely non-violent crowd. The people have the right to express themselves against a thoroughly corrupted system being perpetuated by his government. Mr. “Cabinet rank” Senior Advisor to the Chief Minister of Nagaland should diversify his advice beyond introducing the CM to the by-lane options of salvaging fiscal benefits for the ‘state’ and urgently advise his Chief Minister, who is also the Minister in-charge of scam infested F&CS Department, to undertake an emergency crash course to learn this fundamental principle that ‘no one is above the law’ before he commits hara-kiri. His arrogant itch of ordering his Police robots to give innocent objectors a taste of water cannon, tear gas and lathi charge at a drop of a hat is becoming an insufferable habit he needs to get out of and instead absorb the art of listening to the voice of the people for his own good.
No amount of distorting the facts by the Government, to suit its “not very honourable” agenda of protecting scumbags like Tinku, Nirmal and R.Z. Lotha, will stand the test of truth. The Government’s effort to paint a disfigured picture of ACAUT for “taking law into their own hands” and accusing them of “trespass” is mere garbage because the actual event that transpired was entirely different. ACAUT members were tipped off that the FCI rice was being repackaged in a go-down owned by one R.Z. Lotha. As responsible citizens a few ACAUT members went to first ascertain the veracity of the information. This go-down in question is located in an area of a public thoroughfare. There wasn’t any “No trespassing” notice being displayed within the premises to ward off unwanted guests. The re-packaging of rice in FCI marked gunny bags in good condition into unmarked plastic bags was being conducted in a wide open go-down in plain sight by the pilfering crew because such illegal operation was now a mundane recurring sight for the past many years that no longer attracted undue attention. There was absolutely no need for ACAUT members to forcefully barge in into this facility. They were allowed to enter the go-down without objection from any working inmates and took photographic evidence of a huge stock of FCI rice with an equally large quantity of already bagged rice in plain plastic bags. Interestingly the same PDS rice in the same unmarked plastic bags costing Rs.3/- per Kg at a subsidised rate is being sold in the open market for an average of Rs.35/- per Kg in the open marketplace in Dimapur as verified by ACAUT. It means that the stockists/sub-stockists is raking in a neat Rs.30-32/- clear profit with every Kg sold. Now multiply this amount to the total State’s rice quota in a year that runs into multiple thousands of tonnes. That is more or less the average size of the rice scam every year for the past several decades. The ACAUT members thereafter immediately informed the District Administration and the Police about the ongoing illegal operation. In the presence of District Administration it was the Police who locked up the facility…not ACAUT. The question therefore is: why did the District Administration allow the Police to lock up the go-down if no wrong-doing was being committed? Subsequently ACAUT in coordination with the representatives of the 13 Colony lodged an FIR against the identified FCI rice consignment owners, Tinku and Nirmal from another such shady go-down, belonging to R.Z. Lotha as an abettor to this ongoing illegal pilferage of PDS rice in both the go-downs and had expected the Government to take appropriate action against the culprits. Members of ACAUT learnt a very harsh lesson of a ‘New Law’ of the present DAN Government that when one files FIR against thieves the complainants are the ones liable for arrest not the thieves. The comedy of this rule is the absolute flexibility that the Government can exercise to its advantage. When R.Z. Lotha, the abettor of the crime, was pressurised by the powers that be (as admitted by him) to file a counter FIR against ACAUT on a flimsy excuse that ACAUT had trespassed into his premises (which ACAUT did not as explained)…three ACAUT members were very promptly arrested and put behind bars while the government conveniently overlooked the gigantic ongoing malpractice within RZ Lotha’s go-down as witnessed by the Police and the Administration. On being questioned why Tinku, Nirmal and RZ Lotha were still not being arrested, the Police said Tinku and Nirmal were not in Dimapur, (which of course was a fact), but also had the audacity to say that they were unable to locate the residence of RZ Lotha. Wow! ACAUT members then felt that the Police was seriously in need of a helping hand and therefore provided them with the precise location and address of the goofy in question. The Police still seem to have problems finding RZ Lotha’s residence despite information being given to them. He has still not been arrested to date. This should sufficiently embarrass any law abiding citizen having to watch our government so intensely determined to protect the wrong doers.
The stand of CM and the powers that be in Government is transparently clear. It has no intention of punishing the peer comrades in the same ‘goon club’ because hanging club members like Tinku and Nirmal would be as good as putting the noose around their own necks for obvious reasons. The determined intensity on the part of the Government to disallow ACAUT’s rally on 15th December 2016 should be an eye opener even for the blind. The look of reluctant consternation on the faces of some Police Officers on duty having to carry out the direct order coming from way way way above their heads against their conscience was plain to see. In general, shady business tycoons like the Tinkus are controlling the Government machinery by remote control and good old Chief Minister seems prepared to protect the common turf by shamelessly deploying extreme measures to silence the voice of dissent using his unquestioning robots in uniform. The past headhunting tradition of our ancestors would appear to be a more honourable pastime of a straightforward nature as compared to the present money-hunting cesspool intrigues that is torturously depriving the common man. Had we been living in another world of ethical decency the reigning incumbent would have claimed a moral responsibility for all the unearthed garbage scams and step down…but this is Nagaland! Such an ethical act would uncomfortably bring the blue sky down our heads. If CM would like to disprove the accusations directed against his department, we dare him to call in the CBI!
The Government may perhaps think that it has won the first physical battle of disrupting the rally but ACAUT knows that it has registered a moral victory and the war is not yet over. The infamous incident of 15th December 2016 has greatly enhanced the resolve of ACAUT. The challenging task of waging war against corruption will relentlessly be pursued and ACAUT is determined not to back down until CBI is brought into the frame to start the clean-up operation of the PDS mess in high and shady places and the criminals are brought to justice.
ACAUT team is tentatively scheduling a visit to every District in Nagaland come January 2017 to address the issues of corruption and Clean election. Fathers, Mothers, Brothers, Sisters and all honest conscientious Nagas are being expected to participate in this war against corruption without reservation or hesitation when ACAUT reaches their respective Districts. Know that it is our indifferent silence that is encouraging the healthy growth of corruption. The voice of the people must now be heard loud and clear. Nagas definitely have a more honourable DNA than the degraded visibility before us today. This is a war that must be fought for the sake of our children. They deserve a better future. We hope to see you soon…that’s a promise.
Before winding up, here is wishing all the readers from the bottom of my heart “A Blessed Christmas and an invigorating 2017 for change”. God bless us all…including the Minister of F&CS with a hope that our District Go-downs will now get an overflowing consignment of FCI rice for the people during the festive season at least.
(Khekiye K. Sema is a former retired IAS officer. He can be contacted at email@example.com)