Men in Uniform: To Protect or ….

When one talks about the Men in Uniform, the Indo-Pak war of 1965, 1971 and the 1999 Kargil war will always come to mind and the sacrifice they made for India, their Motherland. These, including the recent most standoffs, India have always come out victorious thanks to the Men in Uniform. So important is their role in our country that a beautiful film by the name of ‘Border’ was made about the lives of soldiers at the Border, the attack by Pakistan and the eventual victory of the India army. And so beautiful was the movie that it has today become a cult film, a film that depicts the lives of the men in uniform at the border the closest. One will also recall the recent stand-offs between India and Pakistan and India and China in recent years; India always came out on top, thanks one again to the men in uniform.

While one will always tell of the sacrifices the men in uniform made for the country, certain incidents in Manipur will always tell a different story. The stories will be of custodial deaths, of molestation and sexual harassments, of fake encounters, etc. Manipur will always remember Thangjam Manorama who was reportedly killed by the Indian paramilitary unit, 17th Assam Rifles on 11 July 2004. Her bullet-ridden and badly mutilated dead body was found abandoned three kilometers away from her home where she was arrested the earlier night. She was shot several times. Investigations revealed that she was tortured and raped before being killed but there was involvement of Assam Rifles. Or Constable Manjur Ahmed (34) who died in police custody for alleged link with fugitive militant chief. In December of 2018, five Manipur Police were also suspended following a custodial death of a 37-year old auto driver. Added to these was the incident of the alleged molestation and sexual harassment of a lady IPS officer by personnel of 12 Assam Rifle; this, close on the heels of a lady being sexually harassed at the same place. One will recall an officer of Manipur Police suspended for allegedly harassing two passengers in Thoubal.

Considering all these, the question arises – what of the men in uniform in Manipur? Are they here to protect the people or harassed them? One will recall how a Manipur Police officer by the name of Hitler harassed a truck driver, even took out his Pistol and pointed at him. Or the suspended constable for collecting money from a lady who was in town to sell char coal. While the men in uniform have been set up and established to protect the public from any danger that might befall them, it appears that many have strayed. It has come to such a condition that people have begun to have less faith in them. One will not deny that many a great deeds have been done by them but there is always that rotten potato that spoils the name of the whole team. And it is that rotten potato that those at the top must take care of and clean them off. For the society looks towards the men in uniform with respect and dignity and it is up to them to keep and maintain that respect and honour.

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