CBI’s closure report on June 18 episode: Where have all the CSOs gone?

By FrontierManipur | Published On 10th Dec, 2020, 10:36 GMT+0530

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It must not be our priority to win the lawsuit. What matters most is to keep the voices of resistance alive. Unfortunately, many CSOs have remained quiet on this issue, pushing citizens to think about the fallibility and foibles of motivational politics.

By Kh Ibomcha

There is always a historical landmark or episode behind the birth of an organisation or a pressure group as its foundational spur. That historical event or landmark prompts the organisation’s aims and objectives, rather its defined goal.  For several reasons, we have seen many  organisations shy away from their initial set goal. As a result, social or political movements led by these groups or organisations go off of the track.

The supposed social/political movements, which are sidetracked from the target set, are generally referred to as diluted movements. They are called so because the activists of leading organisations that keep the fire of the historical episode burning seem to have forgotten the genesis of the movement kick-started by the same episode. And there are tons of such movements in Manipur. So, a cursory look into such a phenomenon is of vital significance to society.

I can not picture anybody in Manipur who does not  know what ’18 June, the great uprising’ is all about. As one says ‘June 18,’ slogans like “Long Live Manipur,” “Protect the territorial integrity of Manipur,” pictures of screaming men and women, tear gas shells, sound of gunfire, streets full of smoke, dead bodies, CRPF, police commandos will come out like a reel in front of one’s eyes.

It was in the backdrop of this eerie setting that the United Committee Manipur (UCM) came into being. As is well-known, it was specifically floated to resist gross violations of human rights in the state, besides protecting the territorial integrity of Manipur. So, there is no need to reiterate why UCM was set up and why we observe June 18 every year, paying tribute and reverence to the people killed on the same date circa 2001.

However, the question is why all apex organizations like the UCM have maintained a deafening silence, even though the CBI has submitted a report to the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Imphal West, to close the ‘June 18, 2001 shooting event.’ The report was shocking to hear! It concluded, “the probe could not identify any security personnel responsible for the shooting.”

Now, do we have to take all those people who took part in the agitation on that fateful day and speak about how CRPF personnel spilled bullets on the protesters as con artists? What is more provocative is that the report says “all documents relating to the case have been found missing from the state home department, the police station and the associated offices.”

“What kind of CBI report is it, “any thinking man in society will honestly say to himself, even though they cannot speak out publicly because of the fear of state power that they think is a pawn in the hands of the central government. However, they might ask themselves, “Is it the job of the CBI or the people to find out the killers?”  The report is almost like saying that the 14 bodies we cremated and whose souls and memories we revere on the bank of Kekrupat were killed by rifles without riflemen.”

This is one of the many reasons why our young people begin to distrust the state apparatus and start believing in the ‘independent discourse’ with silent slogans. Without munching words, the CBI’s closure report is a slap on the faces of the people of Manipur who observe June 18 every year as a ‘state day of mourning’. The only shameful thing is that the many leading organisations do not seem to take it as an insult and feel the need to react strongly against the report.

What is even more embarrassing about this episode is the fact that the state police say they are unable to supply documents related to the case due to frequent shifting of office and constant floods. How could they be so irresponsible about that? ‘Have they taken sides with the people or the killers’ is a question that we can not help but think about.

How did the vital documents go missing that would help to deliver justice to the victims of June 18, 2001? This has proven once again that every part of our administrative structure is being undermined by corruption, as has often been debated in local tea joints and lanes by our elders reading the newspaper.

Forget about the police and other government agencies for a while. Let’s talk about the so-called Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). Where have they gone? No press releases, no agitation, not even a coordinated statement against the report. Is their job just to harp on the populist slogan like ‘we stand for the territorial integrity of Manipur’ when news about the Naga peace talks find their spaces on the pages of our newspapers?

The recently submitted CBI closure report can be read as saying ‘no one killed 14 people,’ which is riddled with sacks of logical fallacy. Here, many would like to question whether or not many CSOs in the state are indeed worried about the 18 June victims. If they are concerned, what does their silence imply? Or did they give way to the marauding claws of the state they were meant to fight against?

It must not be our priority to win the lawsuit. What matters most is to keep the voices of resistance alive. Unfortunately, many CSOs have remained quiet on this issue, pushing citizens to think about the fallibility and foibles of motivational politics.

The CBI’s submission of the closure report of the shooting incident of June 18 in contravention of the 2001 Justice C Upendra Inquiry Commission report is the product of our collective failure including that of the state and the CSOs. The silence also represents the collective morality of people which had in the past led us to the point of extinction of the ‘self’. In short, what we are doing now is like rubbing “umorok-powder” in our own eyes, so that we can not see.

Despite the palpable silence, there is hope with at least one organisation called Extrajudicial Execution Victims Families Association, Manipur (EEVFAM). It had the audacity to speak up against the closure report, along with the family members of the 14 deceased who lodged a petition against the closure report. This is where everyone would like to laud the organisation run by the brave widows and families of victims. What gives them the ability to stand up while others remain silent is the fact that these women know how it feels when one loses one’s own near and dear ones.

(Kh Ibomcha is a social and political observer who had contributed number of articles on news dailies in Manipur)

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