The Cheristerfield encounter has dwindled our trust in police department: Mawlai Kynton Massar Dorbar Shnong

Rangbah Shnong, Marco Mitri said that the raid has swelled doubts about the state’s position on the importance of traditional governance

The dorbar shnong (village council) of Mawlai Kynton Massar on Saturday strongly censured the police department for conducting the recent lethal raid at the house of Cheristerfield  Thangkhiew, erstwhile member of the proscribed Hynñiewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), on August 13.

The rangbah shnong (headman) of Mawlai Kynton Massar Marco Mitri expressed deep anger at the high-handedness of the police. “I got a call at around 4:30 am, while the incident took place at around 3:00–03:15 a.m.,” he said, noting that, at the time of their arrival, Thangkhiew’s sons were forced to lie on the ground by the police.

As per norms, any police raid is first discussed with the dorbar shnong through the police officer-in-charge, and any material seized during the raid is done so in the presence of the rangbah shnong. In this controversial raid, Mitri said, the dorbar shnong was not even allowed to see Thangkhiew’s mortal remains and was only later shown the seizure list.

Mitri further criticised the police, stating that Thangkhiew frequented many places in and around Mawlai and that an arrest could have been made with the dorbar shnong’s cooperation and without such wanton violence.

The unexpected and fatal raid has now led to a crisis in trust and confidence in the police department, the rangbah shnong said, adding that “the police did not do their homework well” and now, doubts are swelling about the state’s position on the importance of traditional governance.

Given the extent to which the government relies on these bodies to push its efforts against the pandemic, Mitri questioned the state’s wisdom in by-passing the dorbar shnong in matters of law and order.

Talking about incidents in the past, he said that the rangbah shnong are often consulted over raids, except in cases where explicit violence, such as cross-firing with suspected militants, is expected. However, this was not the case with the early morning encounter on Friday that killed the 54-year-old Thangkhiew, who had already surrendered peacefully in 2018.

On this matter, President of Mawlai Town Dorbar SD Khongwir stated that the dorbar shnong is consulted before a raid on two basis - to correctly identify the target of the raid and to ensure that the family feels secure in the presence of the local heads.

Echoing Khongwir, Mitri said the raid on Friday has not only left residents insecure but there is now a general feeling that the dorbar shnong, in which people place great trust, may not be able to protect its residents any longer against callous police.

Without such traditional bodies as protectors, the government is free to act on whims and fancies, Mitri cautioned.

(Edited by Ibankyntiew Mawrie)

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