Victims await justice in Pumao incident

Monday Musing

[ Junroi Mamai ]
Almost two months after the brutal killing of Lamdaan Lukham and injuring of others in firing by personnel of the 19th Sikh Regiment at Pumao village in Longding district, the authorities are now about to present the report on the incident for further action.
The Longding district administration had on 18 May initiated a magisterial inquiry into the case. The inquiry committee, headed by an APCS cadre circle officer, was given six weeks’ time to present its report, which has already expired. However, the Longding district administration has assured that it will soon be presenting the report to the higher authorities.
As officials claim that the report is slated to be furnished in the second week of this month, people are now expecting that the probe will present a thorough and impartial report to ensure that the bereaved family of the 60-year-old man and those injured get justice for the pain and loss they suffered due to the callous action of the army personnel.
However, members of community-based organizations of the district have expressed disappointment over the slow progress of the police investigation into the incident. Many doubt that any headway will ever be made in the whole case, considering the fact that the incident involves army personnel. In the past, too, action was rarely initiated against any security personnel who were found to be involved in an incident of a similar, brutal nature.
Authorities comfortably turn a blind eye to the blatant violation of human rights and usually wait for the whole issue to subside after the initial protests and demonstrations are over. They take comfort in the knowledge that, over time, people usually get tired of fighting for justice and slowly forget the issue and move on with their lives.
If we go exactly four years back, a similar incident had occurred in Changlang district, wherein eight civilians suffered bullet injuries, while a 35-year-old father of two, Thingtu Ngemu, from Kongsa village of the district, died from bullet wounds.
On the night of 14 June, 2017, Thingtu Ngemu was shot dead by a unit of the Indian Army’s special force in a case of mistaken identity in a botched operation.
That night, the army was carrying out a counter-insurgency operation in the district’s Namtok area, and the victims had fallen prey to the army’s unwanted ambush due to procedural lapses. Many at that time questioned the army for not coordinating with the police before resorting to cordoning off or ambushing any civil areas to avoid any untoward incident, but there was never any legal action initiated against the personnel involved.
Also, after the incident, neither the state government nor the army came forward to extend help to the family of the deceased.
Similarly, the family of the deceased, and the victims, of the Pumao incident are being denied any support by both the state government and the army despite submission of memorandums to both the authorities, seeking compensation and a job for one of the next of kin of the deceased on compassionate ground.
Moreover, members of CBOs in the district have also decried the slow progress of investigation into the case presently being carried out by the Longding police under the supervision of the superintendent of police. In fact, CBO members have accused the authorities of pressurizing the PRI members in an attempt to weaken the case. Not only does this kind of action discourage people from seeking justice from the law, it also emboldens the violators of human rights. It is time the state government broke its silence over the whole incident and fulfilled the assurances it gave to the people.