By H. Bhavan Meitei:
Most of the investigations being ordered by the government in the North-east or cases related to this region were ‘inconclusive’ and people calmly swallowed alone in the darkness. The recent case of the alleged murder of Richard Loitam, an engineering student from Manipur is no exception.
When the nation was celebrating the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), cricket tournament as a festival, a young lad from Manipur was found murdered in his hostel room allegedly by his roommates on 18th April, 2012 in Bangalore. The report hit the media houses across the country, many covered it as an event with lots of ‘enthusiasm and fervour’ but little later, it dissolved suddenly in the mid-air.
Hoping against hope, many joined hands together in social networking sites for the justice of the victim. A facebook page ‘Justice for Richard Loitam’ hit more than two lakh in a few days and many raised voices to punish the culprit, but it also seemed to fade away as it fell on ‘deaf’ ears. Conclusion or justice aside, even the journey to get into the investigation had many twists and turns for each day that passed by.
When Richard Loitam was found dead in his sleep in the afternoon of 18 April,2012 the college authority tried to pass it off as a case of accident which took place on 15 April2012. However, the circumstances of his death could not be concealed; it was the case of out and out murder! What was disturbing were the allegations levelled against the deceased student. First the college authorities tried to defame late Richard as a drug addict. However the allegation was withdrawn following the hue and cry raised by students’ communities in Bangalore and elsewhere. Later on, medical report revealed that it was a case of brain haemorrhage and not a trace of drug was found in his blood as alleged earlier by the college authorities and the police.
Even more disturbing was the role of the college authorities. First they tried to cover up the whole incident by taking the body to the hospital and informing the police later on. Their baseless allegation against the student of being a drug addict needn’t be reiterated. Their callousness, irresponsibility and devilish attitude towards the case could be matched by few cases in the history of the country.
However the suffering of the parents knew no bounds. From day one, they were sure that it was a clear case of murder. The matter was taken up with the local police and it was registered as a case of death under suspicious circumstances. However due to protests from students’ community, it was changed into a case of murder. The indecision of the Police was matched by the lack of clarity on the part of the medical authority. The earlier report of murder was changed into a case of cardiac arrest. This led to dropping of murder charge framed earlier against the two students. Following the direction of the Union Home Ministry the case was handed over to the CID of the Karnataka Police and the duo charged of murdering Richard were released on bail.
When the last report came in, the autopsy report was sent to AIIMS for re-examination. What is disturbing in the whole episode of the case is the flip-flop on the part of the medical authorities and the Police in dealing with it. The case assumes a bigger dimension when one takes into account the sense of discrimination experienced when it comes to cases as sensitive as Richard’s. The sense of justice and propriety on the part of authorities was observed more in violation than in keeping with it.
Today it seems that case has come to a standstill. After the entire hullabaloo generated during the initial stage of the case, it seems there is no light at the end of the tunnel. From the look of it, the case is certainly going to get lost amongst the criminal files of the Police Department with no solution in sight. It certainly exposes the lacuna in the criminal justice system of the country. Only a miracle can deliver justice to the departed soul. When it comes to cases involving people from the North-East, there is surety of inconclusiveness and incompleteness – the chronicle of a death foretold!