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The cage that sets offenders right

india Updated: Sep 20, 2007 12:55 IST

A seven-foot coffin-like wooden cage erected near the entrance of this village near the boundary with Assam has made many an "offender" repent his misdeeds.

Erected by the local village council, the cage is used to "punish" those found guilty of offences like theft, quarrelling or abusing narcotics and alcohol, the sale of which is banned in Nagaland.

An "offender" is locked up for a 12-hour stretch in the cage as punishment. "Besides being locked up in the cage, generally at night, an offender is fined Rs 500," village headman Mar Longchar said.

"Few months ago, a 28-year-old youth was locked up in the cage after he was caught using drugs," Longchar said.

Adding to the agony of the offenders is the fact that the small cage, which was built nearly two decades ago, is made of 'khajuli gos', a tree whose wood causes an itching sensation.

Punishment is usually swift with offenders lined up before the headman, who is apprised of their guilt. The headman then decides on the punishment.

Even women have been locked up in the cage for their misdeeds, locals said.

However, the detainees are given food, Mar said.

Even residents of Assam who commit any offences in the village face the same punishment, he said.

Assiring is located between Assam's Jorhat district and Nagaland's Mukokchung district, an area that has been disputed by the two states.

Though the practice of locking offenders up in the cage is peculiar to the village with 1600 residents, the headman said there are other remote villages in Nagaland where "sinners" are punished in a similar fashion.

Asked whether police had ever interfered in the matter, Mar boldly said in the local dialect: "Aamikhan dao di katile bhi policor permission loikine nokore." (Even if we hack a person, we don't seek permission from police).