Not legal but rational: How Nagaland teaches a lesson to Rapist

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The Mob in Nagaland lynched the rapist
- Jagdamba Mall

In spite of a long build-up and clear warnings of potential violence, the Dimapur administration was unable to prevent a total breakdown of law and order in the town as an alleged rapist was brutally lynched by a thousand-strong mob on Thursday 5th March 2015.

The news of the rape and the arrest of the accused was first broke on Tuesday 3rd March 2015 in the local media: The Dimapur police kept the incident under wraps for over a week.

The organisations like Naga Council Dimapur and Naga Women Hoho claimed that “unless all Nagas take responsibility to tackle the menace of unabated Bangladeshi infiltrators influx and their stay here in the state, crimes against our women and daughters by these people will only increase.

The mob stormed the Central Jail in Dimapur (Nagaland), dragged out the accused and proceeded to take him to the Clock Tower junction for a public hanging, subjecting him to severe physical assaults on the 7 km long way, leading to his death. The limp body of the man was still dragged behind a motorcycle to the assigned spot and strung up on a fence and his male organ was reportedly chopped off.

The NCD and the NWH further urged that “it is time Naga landlords stop renting their vacant plots and buildings to Bangladeshi infiltrators and their cohorts; time that village and colony councils ensure that no Bangladeshi infiltrators are sheltered in their jurisdictions; and it is time for the district administration and police at the gates to ensure that issuance of inner line permits and its monitoring is strictly checked and adhered to”.

Matters became worse on Wednesday 4th March 2015 as protesters marched to the Deputy Commissioner’s office demanding that the accused be handed over to them. A 9-member representative team of the protesting students, accompanied by members of Survival Nagaland (SN), Naga Students’ Federation (NSF), Naga Women Hoho Dimapur (NWHD), socialist activists, Western Sumi Totimi Hoho, All Nagaland College Students Union, Konyak Students Union Dimapur, Nagaland Alliance for Children and Women and Dimapur District Citizen Forum etc., held a meeting inside the DC’s conference hall, with the district administration and police officials. However, the meeting failed to reach any compromise with the student leaders sticking to their demand.

The DC and SP assured that all possible steps would be taken to punish the accused as per the law. They, however, explained their inability to hand over the accused to the protestors owing to certain provisions of the law.

The protests continued throughout the day and several shops owned by migrants were damaged despite heavy security.Some shops at New Market were set on fire late Wednesday evening (4th March 2015). The shops at Hazi Park and Hong Kong Market areas were also damaged.

The district administration clamped Section 144 in the evening and was relaxed on 5th March in morning when another rally was organised after which the protesters headed for the Central Jail at 4th Mile in Dimapur, overpowered the security guards at the main entrance and broke open the gates in an attempt to find out the Khan.

The police fired blank rounds and tear gas shells and lathicharged the protesters but could not control the crowd. The jail authorities, later, allowed the protesters to inspect the prison cells to identify the accused who had been shifted there from the East Dimapur police station sub-jail.

The top civil and police officers even Home Minister of State should have arrived at the spot by Wednesday 4rth March 2015 itself to take the stock of situation. The services of Assam Rifles and security forces should have requisitioned to control the situation but even till Thursday 5th March night, Assam Rifles and CRPF were nowhere to be seen.

The district administration had clamped Section 144 Cr PC on Wednesday 4th March night but enforcement was not visible throughout the streets of Dimapur. The protesters moved freely.

This is not the first time that an alleged rapist has been lynched to death in Nagaland. Last year, an accused was lynched at Meluri town in Phek district around 280 km from Dimapur for allegedly raping a girl and subsequently strangulating her to death which is why the nature of the protests should have forewarned the police.

Much of the violence seems to have been driven by xenophobic hysteria against outsiders – in this case Bangladeshi Muslims.

Delhi’s response

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has asked for a full report from the Nagaland Government. The Centre has put high alert on Assam and additional forces from Assam have been sent to Dimapur in order to quell any violence they may arise again.

Rajnath Singh said "Necessary action will be taken against the perpetrators of the incident. Instructions have been given to the concerned officials.We have also provided adequate security there".

The Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang said that a committee will probe if there was security lapse. Dimapur Director General of Police has said that all the arrests have been made based on the video footage.

He added that the police was trying to identify attackers. He also said that the police did not use force as the mob consisted mostly of students. The medical report, as per police officers, confirmed sexual assault. The police indicated that anger started after some rumour of a minority student’s organisation vandalised Nagaland House in Guwahati. There were reports of some other prisoners also escaping taking the chance of crowd in the jail.

How did the incident occur?

The girl is a Sema Naga studying in BA 1st year in S.D. Jain Girls College Dimapur. On the fateful day she was reportedly called out by one of her known Sema Naga male friend on the pretext of taking her out.

After taking the girl out in a car, the accomplice along with the accused Syed Farid Khan who is married to a Sema Naga woman, stopped at Super Market area and bought some drinks. Later, the accomplice on the pretext of meeting one of his friend left the duo behind at the Super Market area where the girl was sexually assaulted.

The accused who deals in second hand cars and lives in Dimapur was arrested on 25th February 2015 when the victim girl lodged an FIR in Diphupar Police Station. Though the girl’s accomplice was guilty of alluring her and handing her over to the accused, he appeared to be condoned by the mob presumably for the reason that he is also a Sema Naga – the community which dominates Dimapur district

DC, SP Dimapur, Senior Superintendant Jail suspended
The State Cabinet on Friday 7th March 2015, placed Deputy commissioner Dimapur, Wezope Kenye (NCS); Senior SP Dimapur, Meren Jamir (IPS) and Senior Superintendent of Jail, in-charge of Dimapur Central Jail, B. Chuba Phom under suspension for dereliction of duty on 5th March.
Political conspiracy

Nagaland has witnessed political chaos from last few months spearheaded by power-hungry politicians in league with militant organisations. They had been on a look to find out any opportunity to destabilise the ministry by disturbing peace and tranquillity in the State.

This incident of rape provided a golden opportunity to these people and reportedly incited, initiated and encouraged the mob in the process of jail break, the taking out of the accused from judicial custody and torturing him to death.

One- man judicial inquiry

Governor of Nagaland has appointed retired District & Sessions Judge Veprasa Nyekha as the one-man judicial inquiry to probe the March 5 incident in Dimapur.
Sema show of strength.

Dimapur district is dominated by Sema community and whenever an opportunity arises Sema show of strength is witnessed. This time also, this show of strength is being witnessed.

The Barbaric Image revived

There was a time when Nagas were described as head-hunter. Many western writers referred Nagas as barbaric and merciless.

Thanks to leaders like Dr. S. C. Jamir, N. C. Zeliang, Chingwang Konyak, Prof. Gangmumei Kamei, Ramkuiwangbe Newme, Reishang Keishing, Chalie Kevichusa, Hokishe Sema, Vizol and J. B. Jasoki etc.because of whose nationalist character and civilized behaviour, Naga Image improved as a civilized society but 5th March incident has revived that barbaric image.

People described it as “Talibanic action”. Most upsetting and disturbing aspect is that the slogan – “Nagaland for Christ” appeared to have no influence on Naga Society and preachers of love and peace were nowhere to be seen.

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