For the different states and regions of North East India to come out of its shell and make a real effort at peace, the first step in that direction is to not give former and surrendered militants a free ride. A free ride at the cost of taxpayers who unwillingly and unknowingly pay for an entourage of armed personnel to protect these criminals from the repercussions of their illegal and criminal behaviour.
The recent case in Shillong of the arrest of a Member of the Legislative Assembly on charges of sexual exploitation of a minor, while it has caused a collective uproar in the community, could have been avoided at the very least. The arrested elected representative is a former and surrendered militant. He was what was known as the "self-styled" chairman of the Hynniew-Trep National Liberation Council from 1993-2007. The HNLC as it is commonly referred to was a violent and nationalist group that preyed upon and feasted on the worst of human emotions.
At its the heyday, the actions of the HNLC were responsible for the turning back of the clock on a slow but gradual progression of the economy in Shillong and much of the Khasi and Jaintia Hills. Defeating militancy and its cancer, or at the most basic, rendering it a minuscule entity operating on the fringes with little influence and significance was no small feat, and all of the community should be lauded especially when one looks at the neighbouring states, or for that matter the cesspool of violence and corruption that has become the Garo Hills.
So it was a shock to many when the rural constituency of Mawhati elected Julius Kitbok Dorphang at the 2013 Meghalaya Assembly Elections. While rumours of fraud and intimidation of voters have dodged the mentioned election and subsequent victory, nothing has been substantiated or verified. And no cases of fraud, corruption, and voter intimidation have been filed either. So, in the eyes of the law, Dorphang, was elected to the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly fair and square.
According to reports from Meghalaya, a joint operation of the Assam and Meghalaya Police Forces arrested Dorphang on the night of 6 January, after a search operation of almost two weeks. The Superintendent of Police (Crime) of Shillong, while speaking to the media elaborated that the investigation that led to the capture of Dorphang was a thorough one and the assistance of the Guwahati City Police was a major assistance.
"We finally arrested him around 11 pm from ISBT Garchuk with the assistance of Guwahati City Police," Syiem said during the press conference. "He will be produced in the court of the Additional District Commissioner on Saturday and we are asking for police remand for five days."
The victim here is a minor, a 14-year-old- Ichamati girl.
So the question that we need to ask ourselves is this: How did we let it get to a position where we make leaders and our representatives the ones who are criminals and under ordinary circumstances should be locked up in prison? As much of a believer and proponent of individual rights as I am, there’s a collective moral responsibility that each of us, citizens of Meghalaya in general, and the Khasi and Jaintia Hills in particular, must bear. Because a lot of this is on us. We chose to look the other way. We normalised criminal behaviour.
We put politics in a box and made it a lane for the ill-informed, the rabble rousers, the man on the street corner.
The under-educated. The bullies.
Updated Date: Jan 13, 2017 17:44 PM