Strangers in native land

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“An arrogant person considers himself perfect. This is the chief harm of arrogance. It interferes with a person’s main task in life – becoming a better person.”

– Leo Tolstoy


The lynching of two innocent youth –Nilotpal Das and Abhijit Das – in Karbi Anglong over an unsubstantiated yet wild rumour about ‘child lifter’ has expectedly evoked spontaneous reactions. The state saw protests for the third day on Tuesday as people continue to be in a state of shock and disbelief over the killings of Nilotpal, the Goa-based sound engineer and his friend Abhijeet, a businessman. The barbaric incident is a painful reality of modern India. What happened on that fateful evening is by now well-known. Two young men out on a road trip to a visit a waterfall were mistaken for “child-lifters” – over the past few weeks social media and text messages about groups of miscreants were circulating in the district – and beaten to death by a mob allegedly comprising of people of the Karbi and Bodo communities. The grotesque images of two young men being mercilessly beaten to death flared up in social media. They never imagined that they would become strangers in their native land. The duo pleaded with the mob and gave their antecedents. Nobody present there was ready to acknowledge their plea that they were Assamese –sons of the soil. The episode has threatened the very existence of humanity.

What happened in Kangthilangso under Dokmoka police station in Karbi Anglong district on Friday night was sad to the extreme – a native begging for his life in his native land. But what is more depressing and surprising are the post-incidents comments that came from the deputy commissioner of Karbi Anglong and a ‘responsible’ minister of the Sarbananda Sonowal-led state government. The deputy commissioner in a surprising way said that the two persons before going to that village should have informed the police station. The minister coming out in the support of “insensitive and irresponsible” Karbi Anglong deputy commissioner said that it was night time and there was a difference between travelling around in Rangiya or Guwahati as compared to Karbi Anglong. Our Constitution has freedom to all the citizens to move to any part of India without any obligation. The question of taking permission does not arise here. Or was there any notice board put up by the district administration asking people to take permission before visiting the area?  How they were to know that they would become victims of ‘circumstances’. Or they would be treated as strangers in their own land? Clearly, both Nilotpal and Abhijeet are victims of mob justice, the dispensation of justice by people who usurp the authorities of constitutional bodies.

Given the deadly consequences of the wild rumours going viral on social media, the police have so far arrested 22 people from different parts of the state for spreading hate messages and fake photographs of the so-called child lifters. But whether it would be possible for police to identify and arrest all the culprits is debatable. There would be definite pressure on police from certain quarters to free some arrested suspects. The government must give the necessary freedom to the police to go deep into the case for the sake of justice and to prevent killings and murders in the name of superstitions rumours etc in future.

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