[ Tongam Rina ]
The brutal killing of Arunachalee politician Tirong Aboh and 10 others, including his son, in Tirap has numbed the state with pain.
The sheer brutality has shaken the people to the very core.
Everything will go on as it is, but this state has been shaken forever by those killers masquerading as freedom fighters for a cause which was never the first choice of the people of Tirap, Changlang and Longding to begin with.
The Indian Army has reportedly launched an offensive in the jungles of Tirap, Longding and Changlang districts to nab the killers. It remains to be seen whether the actual killers will be nabbed. So far, there seems to be no progress, even though the killers, belonging to the IM faction of the NSCN, have apparently been identified.
Going by earlier precedents, it is unlikely that anything will happen soon, so the people of the state and the families who lost their loved ones have to get themselves ready for a very long haul.
The killers of former MP Wangcha Rajkumar are yet to be brought to justice. He was killed on 23 December, 2007, in Deomali, while he was playing badminton. More than a decade later, the case, which is being handled by the CBI, is still ongoing.
The Indian Army has assured that it will “soon track down and bring to justice all perpetrators involved in this horrific act.”
We have to wait a little longer to find out how they are going to do it, even though the army has already posted pictures of where they are.
While we wait for decisive, result-oriented action from the security forces that are leading the operation and the state police, one question that remains is why there was such a massive intelligence failure.
Tirong Aboh had on 3 April appealed for security, and free and fair elections, after his worker Jaley Anna had been tortured to death. Aboh was one of the three politicians who addressed the massive gathering in Khonsa, and the one who called out the involvement of the NSCN (IM) in the electioneering process.
Did the state police take enough precaution? Was Aboh’s security upgraded? So far, it appears that not enough security had been provided to him. Four security guards for an MLA candidate who was under threat, and whose worker had been murdered in a violence-torn district, was just not enough.
The state police and the security forces stationed in Tirap have a lot to answer for. They owe an explanation to the families of those murdered and the people of this state why they failed in saving the 11 precious lives. The police and army bosses at the helm of affairs in the state have to take responsibility for the total intelligence failure.
Accountability and responsibility have to be fixed now, so that no one has to bury their loved ones because of the failure of those who are supposed to keep the citizens safe. Were these agencies resting while the various factions of the NSCN, specifically the IM, had a free run?
From the very beginning, various factions of the NSCN have been involved in the election process. Two persons were murdered prior to the elections; many were kidnapped and tortured. That’s more than enough warning to act.
Though all the factions were involved, it was the NSCN (IM) that stood out. This is the same group that has an agreement with the Centre. A ‘framework agreement’ was signed between the Centre and the NSCN (IM), in the presence of the prime minister of India, in 2015.
Did they forget Arunachal while they signed the agreement which has never been made public? Very likely, given the fact that most of the operations carried out by the Indian security forces in Arunachal have been against the NSCN (IM).
The farcical nature of the agreement is visible because the NSCN (IM) has suffered the highest number of casualties, right from killing of its cadres to arrests and dismantling of its bases. What is the framework agreement about? Such dual standards need to end. The lives of the people of Tirap, Changlang and Longding matter as much as that of someone sitting in Delhi or elsewhere in Arunachal.
The Indian government must come out clear on what the framework agreement is all about. Is it a licence to the NCSN (IM) to go on a killing spree in Tirap? Perhaps we will never know, as the accord is shrouded in secrecy.
But the fact remains that 11 people were buried on the same day. If this does not shame or pain the state police and the security forces and the governments of India and Arunachal into action, we cannot hope for a safe future for Tirap, or a free legislative assembly, devoid of armed outside interference. There is a time for everything, and now is the time to act.