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State police debate on human rights

Dimapur, February 10 (MExN): Uniformed personnel - be it the Army, the paramilitary or the police normally get defensive, if and when the ever touchy issue of human rights is brought up. The Nagaland Police is no different, yet human rights was at the centre of discussions at this year’s state police debate competition. Organised in collaboration with the National Human Rights Commission, it is the 8th time the Nagaland Police has held such a competition.
The topic was ‘Law enforcers inclined on abuse of power rather than human touch on human rights’. The team supporting the motion was led by Rajashekara N, IPS, Superintendent of Police, Longleng; while the team against the motion was led by UBI Yilobemo, DEF Wokha. The keynote address was delivered by the DGP, O Alem, IAS; while the moderator was Bendang Lemtur, DIG (Trainig & Border).
If today’s debate was anything to go by, the level of competition as well as the debaters’ verbal prowess has shown positive improvement. Incidents of police high-handedness getting much attention in recent times, the debaters, particularly those for the motion, left no stone unturned in highlighting the excesses of their comrades; while the opposing team justified but definitely without inviting resentment. “We think wearing the uniform we can do anything but it is not so,” argued one of the debaters, UBSI Imnapokyim, who was speaking for the motion. Rather uniformed personnel must stick to principles, be humble and polite. What happens in the police lock-up during interrogation of people detained on suspicion or accused contradicts the claim of the team against the motion, he said.  
Police lock-up is not a place of punishment rather it is meant for safe custody, supplemented ASI Nzanbemo Kikon of DEF Kohima also speaking for the motion. Policemen tend to take law into their own hands, often without ascertaining who is right or wrong. The debater was referring to instances of policemen on duty meting out ‘on the spot punishment’ on wrong doers. “Is it not abuse of power,” he questioned. “We use various forceful means to extract information during interrogation,” but there is no law that warrants this, he said while adding, “Let us wisely use the law that empowers us.”
ABSI Mhonyamo Kikon of the 13th NAP backed up his team mates’ argument by quoting facts and figures. According to the NCRB about 60 percent of all arrests are found to misjudged, he said while adding the law does not permit third degree torture during interrogation.  ‘Isolated or one-off incidents must not be taken as the sole ground to blame the entire force’ was one of the central points of argument for the team opposing the motion. Team leader UBI Yilobemo, taking up the argument acknowledged the use of force. However, he said that for one officer who abuses power, there are a hundred others who do not. ASI L Moa Aier of DEF Mon withholding the point of the team leader said that incidents of police abusing power are blown out of proportion in the media. “We’re everyone’s punching bag. What can be juicier than a policeman committing a mistake?”  
“We’re there to serve and protect… we never back down from our duties,” said UBSI Joseph of DEF Tuensang. On the other hand the policemen are a misunderstood lot labeled with all kinds of accusations. Despite all the criticisms “we perform to the best of out ability, he contended.
‘Are policemen expected to carry the Bible and preach instead of rifles?’ posed havildar R. Elanthung Lotha of the 14th NAP. He said, “We need a strong political will to support us and above all the support of the public.”  The team arguing for the motion eventually was adjudged the winners by a three-member jury which consisted of PF Zeliang, IPS, DIG (Range/NAP) Dimapur; K Temjen Jamir, Editor of Tir Yimyim; and YT Sangtam, Public Prosecutor. In individual performance, ABSI Mhonyamo Kikon stood out from the rest securing the first position. He was followed by UBSI Joseph and havildar R Elanthung Lotha in second and third position respectively. The range trophy went to Dimapur. The debaters selected after going through the district and range level competitions. 

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