[ Amar Sangno ]
The Pema Khandu government’s decision to hand over the Toko Yame and the Ojing Taying murder cases to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is one of the rarest in Arunachal – particularly with regard to murder cases. Indeed, the CBI is yet to set its foot in Arunachal Pradesh as far as death-related investigation is concerned.
Therefore, Khandu’s decision is a welcome step. Elated student bodies and the relatives of the victims have lapped it up with a glimmer of hope that justice will be delivered.
Relieving the state police’s special investigation team (SIT) of the investigation of the murder cases has perhaps saved the SIT from widespread opprobrium. It is also a testimony that the people have lost their faith in the investigating agency.
Over the years, the SIT has been facing unprecedented diatribes from all quarters. Whenever any procession is taken out over a crime being investigated by the SIT, the agency is derided in high decibels and accused of being a puppet that wags its tail around its political bosses. The SIT’s credibility has been questioned time and again, its effigies burnt on several occasions, its caricatures kicked at and garlanded with sandals, its efficiency written off publicly.
The reason is quite obvious. The SIT has been failing over and over again to come to any logical conclusion in any criminal case it has investigated. Most of the death-related cases investigated by the SIT have yielded no fruitful results. There are numerous murder cases that the SIT has made no headway in till now.
For instance, the SIT is still clueless about the mysterious murder of Kali Bulo, who was an assistant teacher at the government higher secondary school in Mechuka in West Siang district.
Bulo was found dead under mysterious circumstance in his government quarters on 5 August, 2016. The young teacher’s death had drawn massive public hue and cry, leading the home department to constitute an SIT to probe the alleged murder case.
However, as the crescendo has gradually fallen silent, so has the SIT, having made no breakthrough in the case.
In a similar fashion, the SIT is dragging its feet in the case of former Doimukh MLA Ngurang Pinch’s death. Even though a few suspects were arrested, no perceptible progress has been made so far in the case. The aggrieved family has been demanding that the case be handed over to the CBI, in apprehension that the SIT would not be able to crack the case.
The SIT has been accused of taking a cavalier attitude towards mysterious death cases, be it Kali Bulo, Toko Yame, Ojing Taying or Ngurang Pinch, and treating the accused with kid gloves.
The manner in which the SIT manoeuvered in the Ngurang Pinch and Toko Yame death cases throws up a legitimate question: What is the use of constituting a special investigation team if it acts at a pace similar to that of the regular investigation agencies?
Director General of Police SBK Singh has defended his SIT team, saying efforts have been made in the Ngurang Pinch case. However, the investigating officer’s report has to be verified by the superior officers before drawing any conclusion.
The DGP also said there is a long list of people in the Ngurang Pinch death case who have to be submitted to lie detector tests, which is yet to be done. The DGP, however, admitted that the state police are lacking modern equipment and a forensic lab for carrying out effective scientific investigation. However, he denied involvement of any political pressure over any case, and appealed to the people to trust the police and have patience, saying “the investigation takes months to conclude.”
For the time being, several organisations, and the families of Toko Yame and Ojing Taying, have succeeded in building considerable pressure on the government to hand over the cases to the CBI.
With the ball in its court now, whether the CBI decides to play or leave is to be seen.