Police Inaction and PM’s Silence
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Police Inaction and PM’s Silence

July 22, 2023

The nation is shocked enough to talk about the Manipur violence after the video of a mob parading two naked women went viral. But what should shock us, even more is the lack of Police action and the PM’s silence for all this time.

The violence in Manipur erupted after a rally by the All-Tribal Students Union of Manipur (ATSUM), consisting mostly Nagas and Kukis, on May 3 in protest against the proposed inclusion of the Meitei community in the list of Scheduled Tribes (STs).

Manipur Police arrested four people allegedly part of a mob that stripped two women and paraded them naked on May 4. These arrests came 77 days after the incident! Delay in justice emboldens criminals and that’s what’s been happening across India for a long time now.

We saw this lack of fear of justice among criminals in the Hathras district of Western Uttar Pradesh. A mother found her 19-year-old daughter lying naked in a field with her tongue protruding from her mouth and bleeding in her groin area.

The Police arrived and instead of shifting her to a hospital and filing an FIR, they first took the mother and daughter to the local Police Station and then to the hospital. Then two weeks later, she was shifted to Safdarjung Medical Hospital in Delhi, where she died.

The Police later whisked her body away in the middle of the night and cremated her in the dark with no family around. How inhumane! How cruel! There was no immediate action against the perpetrators and the PM was silent. How can a Government institution meant to serve the people suffer such deficiency in empathy and kindness?

Back then, the Allahabad High Court, responding to the Hathras case, said, “It has shocked our conscience.” We are shocked again by what happened in Manipur and it won’t stop unless the Police act. Police action is an absolute must. Unfortunately, politics gets in the way of Police action. That is where the Prime Minister should speak up.

“I am really upset. Why is our Prime Minister still absent? Why hasn’t he spoken a single word? My people are burning and dying,” said Colonel Shantikumar Sapam (retd.), who served in the Assam Regiment. Did it take for women to be paraded naked for the PM to speak up?

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Modi used to mock Dr. Manmohan Singh, calling him ‘Maun-Mohan Singh’ in the run-up to his election as the Prime Minister, but, interestingly, Dr. ‘Maun-Mohan Singh’ has held more press conferences than PM Modi!

After becoming PM, Modi got engaged with us with his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme. Now he must hear our ‘Mann Ki Baat’ too.

In his first Independence Day speech in 2014, Prime Minister Modi said, “Parents ask their daughters hundreds of questions, but have any of them ever dared to ask their sons as to what he is doing and where he is going.” Now we have to ask, for a PM who was oversharing with his voters, why was there such a long silence about Manipur? Why wasn’t there a stern warning to the troublemakers and encouragement to the Police?

Our Prime Minister does not speak up when it matters; even if he does, it is not on the issue but in a vague philosophical manner. It happened during COVID too. Instead of speaking of preparation and how we would deal with it, he took the role of a motivator.

Indeed it is good to inspire and motivate, but would the BJP have been accepting if Dr. Manmohan Singh had requested us to clap, apologised for the problems and asked us to light a lamp? Would we not have ripped the poor man apart by calling him names like ‘Maun-Mohan Singh,’ a ‘Ventriloquist’s dummy’ or ‘Madam’s puppet’?

For a long time, our PM has been quiet about many issues, such as lynching by cow vigilantes, COVID deaths, failure of demonetisation, etc. He has indeed upped Indian stature globally, but we need to hear from him on domestic issues, not just leave it to his respective Ministers. Worse has been his silence on corruption.

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Modi promised — ‘na khaunga na khane dunga’ — in the context of corruption. It means, “I will not eat nor allow others to eat.” [Meaning, ‘I will not be corrupt nor will I allow others to be corrupt’]. When a PM, who seems to be in control of his party and its cadre, says, “I will not be corrupt, nor will I allow others to be corrupt”, as a citizen, you feel immense hope…but in Karnataka, the BJP was highly corrupt. Yet the PM came and campaigned in Karnataka and didn’t utter a word about the issue of corruption!

This was the same PM who said Dr. Manmohan Singh was not corrupt, but his Government was and then mocked him by saying, “Dr. Sahab is the only person who knows the art of bathing in a bathroom with a raincoat on.”  Guess our PM has borrowed that raincoat now.

What has changed in terms of communication and corruption? Dr. Singh was quiet and so was our PM. Dr. Singh did not communicate with the citizens, nor did our PM. ‘Mann Ki Baat’ and campaign speeches are not communicating, it’s just one-way traffic and pointing fingers at the Opposition.

The Manipur issue is long-standing, but it didn’t have to come to this. During Vajpayee’s time, a similar situation manifested in the North-East. Back then, Vajpayee had formed an all-party delegation and held two meetings in Manipur to solve the problem. This time ‘all parties’ went to speak to the PM but were kept waiting for so long that they left leaving behind a memorandum at his office.

When a leader of the stature of Modi keeps silent, the Police go quiet and the rioters become bold and violent. We don’t want a Manmohan Singh version of Modi. We want a 2014 version of Modi. A man who walks the talk.

Silence is golden only till it’s not and now is not the time to be silent. Instead of attempting to broker peace between Russia and Ukraine, our PM could try and bring peace to North-East India.

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