Gang-raped , murdered and buried, but truth and justice should not be buried.

By Jalun Haokip.

Published on The Sangai Exress News,22 May, 2017

The recent spate of rape and violence against children and women in Manipur has sent shockwaves across the state and beyond.

While the entire community was still coming to grips with shocking incidents of gang-rape of minors, in what is reminiscent of the December 2012 Delhi gang-rape that triggered nationwide outrage and protest, a 21 year old private school teacher, Shila, was allegedly brutally gang-raped, tortured and murdered on the night of May 4.

Her dead body was found in the morning of May 5 at a place near Sugnu, a town split into two districts of Chandel (hill) and Thoubal (valley). A 28 year old man, Kaikholen Tuboi, was also found brutally murdered at a spot about half a kilometre apart from where Shila’s dead body was found. Shila's dead body was buried on May 6, and that of Kaikholen on May 7.

The Police have done a commendable job in the arrest of the perpetrators of the Phaknung, Kakching and Chingmeirong incidents, but the handling of the Sugnu double murder case is far from satisfactory.

Manipur Police Chief DGP LM Khaute made a media statement on May 8 that a female suspect in the case had been detained by the police for interrogation and that no formal arrest has been made so far while further investigation was on.

It has been clarified in the ‘May 17 Agreement’ between the State government and Joint Action Committee (JAC) against this murder that news reported in a local Manipuri daily on May 9 which claimed Kaikholen died of drug overdose was not authentic and did not come from the investigating officers.

Shila’s family believe this is just a ploy to blame two dead people, both of whom are victims of crime and cannot defend themselves, and end the case without a logical conclusion. A member of the JAC against Sugnu double murder case, on conditions of anonymity, told this writer that she resented the poor quality of police investigation into the double murder case, adding that the conduct of the doctor who led the post mortem also is highly questionable as he made some totally unrelated comments when a team from the JAC went to him and asked for post mortem reports. Do these, she asked, point to a conspiracy to bury evidence?

When this writer contacted the Police regarding the case, Police will not divulge information as the case is still under investigation.

It can be suspected that Shila was brutally gang-raped and tortured before being murdered in cold blood, and Kaikholen was also murdered by the same perpetrators. But, could forensic evidence have been buried along with the dead bodies of the two victims of crime? A high-level thorough probe should be ordered into the case for speedy justice.

Given the gravity of brutality and atrocity, the case of alleged gang-rape and murder of Shila deserves to be treated as seriously as the December 2012 Delhi gang-rape case in which justice has been delivered by awarding death penalty to the rapists of Nirbhaya who succumbed to her injuries 13 days after the incident.

Shila had been brutally gang-raped, murdered and buried, but truth and justice should not be allowed to be buried. Only when justice is delivered, will the loved ones of the victims be able to rest in peace.

(The writer is an Australia-based social worker and he can be reached at jalunhaokip@gmail.com)