The Ajit mahanta custodial killing in Assam, India has created a lot of controversy. Politicians and human rights activists alike had taken up cudgels on behalf of the former militant.However, the media coverage lacked one thing–accuracy.Now, an innnocent man is being punished for merely following orders and doing his job…Is justice the privelege only of a chosen few?
The Lady of Justice is blindfolded…
She sees nothing.
She has been blinded by those in power.
And the innocent can no longer claim what is rightfully theirs.
Terms like ‘right’, ‘fair’ and ‘just’ have become mere pawns in a politicized game…and verdicts are often determined by political constraints and media hype.
Case in point is the Ajit Mahanta custodial death in Assam.
The ‘main accused’ Major Nishant Sharma has been penalized by 1 year’s loss of seniority for promotion and the ‘co-accused’ Sepoy Gurung has been sentenced to 2 years RI (rigorous imprisonment).
This has been ably reported by our unbiased media. However, they have failed to report, rather conveniently that the above sentence has been meted out for a very monir charge, that of “failing to co-ordinate with neighbouring unit.” The usual punisgment for this charge is either a verbal warning or at the most a written reprimand.
But ‘Madam’ had promised the voters in Assam that “somebody will be punished.” So let’s go ahead and ruin the careers of the people that can be accused.
The media reported that Maj. Nishant got Mahanta’s body dumped outside the medical college. Was the media present at that time? Or was the media present at the time of the post-mortem? Maj. Nishant was. He had duly escorted the body for the post-mortem and remained present throughout the investigation.
But wait…that would make him look like a nice, responsible guy. So lets omit that from the reports.
A General court martial (GCM) had been convened some months back and after many weeks of examining the evidence, the board had acquitted the accused on all counts. The board declared that Maj. Nishant Sharma and the 2 OR’s co-accused were NOT guilty of causing Ajit Mahanta’s custodial death. They did NOT torture him or beat him to death.
The accused thanked the Lord, heaved a sigh of relief, and were about to set out and reunite with their families after a separation of more than six months.
Kahaani mein twist. Bollywood ishtyle. Fix ‘em! The “orders from above” were clear. Certain politically active groups and the media, of course, were not happy with this turn of events. So, let’s twist the rules a little. A second GCM was ordered, despite there being no fresh evidence. The farce was carried out, and SURPRISE! SURPRISE! The accused were handed out the strictest possible sentences. Oh! And by the way, the second GCM also found all three accused NOT guilty of causing Mahanta’s custodial death.
Then why the harsh punishment? And why was the presiding officer, a mere CO of an Arty Unit, called for a private interview with the all mighty Corps Commander, just two days prior to the GCM? Could the answers to the above be linked?
Enough said. Every man in olive green has now learnt a lesson. Doing the job you were trained for, can get you into deep trouble. Let the militancy flourish…let the innocent civilians die…better them than us at the altar of political sacrifice.
The message is clear: Let the Chetwode motto remain on its hallowed wall. Reality only serves to mock it.