Doomsday for trigger happy men in uniform!
THE directive issued by the Supreme Court for investigation into three cases of rape and murder in 2003 in Manipur, out of 1528 complaints the court has received in connection with excesses allegedly committed by the security forces operating in the state, will definitely compel the personnel of armed forces to think twice before they pull the trigger next time. Though the Central government is unlikely to easily give up the legal battle in order to persist with the constitutional shield provided to the men in uniform, Tuesday’s apex court decree will certainly give a ray of hope to the kith and kin of the victims that justice will eventually be done to those who had fallen prey to the trigger happy security personnel, who live under the impression that no harm could be done to them regardless of violating rights of others. The court out-rightly rejecting the Centre's plea that cases of extra-judicial killings allegedly by armed forces in insurgency-hit Manipur should not be re-opened could also be termed as a morale victory to the rights activists, who have taken up the cudgel for pulling up the guilty and make them accountable for their wanton disregard of human value. It is also obvious that the Centre must be licking the wounds if one takes into account of the fact that the Supreme Court cited the case of Bangladesh, where trials are being conducted against war criminals for atrocities committed in 1971, to dismiss the plea of the Indian government that the cases of security forces’ alleged excesses had occurred over a decade back and many of the armed personnel had retired from service.
The Centre’s apparent reluctance for re-opening the controversial cases, conduct fresh investigation and penalise those found guilty also compels one to wonder whether citizens of Manipur are valueless. Accepted that many of those who got killed at the hands of both central and state forces were confirmed members of outlawed armed organisations, but it is equally important to note that many innocent persons were also slain under the garb of counter-insurgency operations in the state and that the security forces exercised unrestrained powers as if they were above the law. Regardless of the indelible pain inflicted upon families of the innocent victims, the security personnel have for much too long believed that the provisions of the Armed Forces’ Special Powers Act 1958 will protect them from any adverse situation, professionally and personally. Whether or not the petitioners taste success in their pursuit for justice, the on-going case should be an eye opener for the uniformed personnel that their premeditated actions have widowed hundreds and left even more number of children to fend for themselves in this harsh world. As the Union government has been unrelenting from its firm stand to bring back industrialist Vijay Mallya to India and put him on trial for economic offences, people of Manipur will hold the central leaders in high esteem if it cooperates with the apex court’s proceedings to nail those security personnel who failed to uphold their constitutional obligations of safeguarding the citizens. Thus, a fair and impartial trial is inevitable to ensure that the deceitful men in uniform are not decorated with medals but face the consequences of their ignominious action that have caused distress and heartache to many.