Sunday, 9 December 2012

INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DAY FOR IROM SHARMILA

PRESS RELEASE
INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DAY FOR IROM SHARMILA


On 10th December, the world observes the International Human Rights Day and talks about protection and promotion of human rights. But here, in New Delhi, on the eve of Human Rights Day, a human chain was formed to showcase the plight of Irom Sharmila and the human rights violation caused by heavy militarization and the draconian act of Armed Forces Special Power Act or AFSPA.  

On the eve of Human Rights Day, volunteers of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign(SSSC), a nation-wide struggle to protest against the neglect and suppression of Irom Sharmila, a Manipuri human rights activist who has been on a hunger strike against AFSPA in Manipur for 12 years now, organized a human chain to at India Gate at 5 PM. SSSC appeals to the Government to open talks with her. For over a year, SSSC has been organizing public demonstrations, candle-light vigils, signature campaigns, caravans and awareness programmes in colleges across the nation and beyond.

The motive of the human chain was established by the organizers. Ravi Nitesh, one of the organizers, remarked that it is "a way to spread the word among the citizens about a fellow citizen. Irom Sharmila has been struggling for 12 years to argue for rights which are given to everyone else in the country".

To this, Mohammad Tanveer added that, "She is not just a citizen but a truth democrat. Her ongoing struggle shows her faith in the democratic institutions of the country. But the Government has chosen to neglect her non-violent and democratic voice. We ask why?"

Shaheen Muhammad, another organizer, argued that, "When the Government can talk to naxals and terrorists. Why can't they talk to someone who has been on a non-violent struggle for rights of people? It is shocking that in these 12 years, the Government has not sent even one delegation to meet her.

Pankaj Pathak stated that, "On human rights day, this human chain symbolizes another blot on the World's largest democracy.  We support Irom and her struggle as we believe that every citizen of this country deserves the same rights and privileges."

Another volunteer, Shekhar Jain, argued that, "For over a year, we have been organizing activities to spread the word about her struggle and we have hardly come across a person who has been unsympathetic towards her struggle and her people. So the logic of the Government that people are unsympathetic and insensitive towards North-east states is quite a myth."

Even here, when the human chain was formed, many from the crowds joined them. The volunteers had also distributed pamphlets with basic information on her and her struggle. 

One of those who joined the chain remarked, "I was shocked to hear about her. This is unimaginable. How can someone be on a hunger-strike for 12 years? This Government is insensitive and discriminatory."

"It is true that we have always been so ignorant about the North-East but this does not mean that we are insensitive. This is really shocking that such a thing is happening in our own country. Why do we blame other countries for human rights discrimination then?" added another.

A college student commented, "Is this the reality of a diverse nation? We are one and we must enjoy equal rights". 

The Human chain turned out to be another mechanism to gather support for Irom Sharmila and give her the hope that she is not alone in her struggle.

Regards,
(A joint initiative of various organizations & movements)




Monday, 5 November 2012

Article-series on Irom: यह चुप्पी इरोम की नहीं, लोकतंत्र की हार है!


As a recent move of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign (SSSC), a nationwide protest against the neglect and suppression of Irom Sharmila, is observing 12 Article series to reflect 12 years of suppression of Irom Sharmila's fast.

In this series one article per day will be published on its website and will be dedicated to one year fast of Irom.

This will conclude on 5th November, the day when Irom Sharmila will be unfortunately completing her 12 years of stuggle. 

Here's an article in Hindi: 



यह चुप्पी इरोम की नहीं, लोकतंत्र की हार है!


- अशोक कुमार पाण्डेय



मणिपुर में सरकारी अस्पताल में जबरन नलियों के सहारे दिए जा रहे भोजन के भरोसे चलती साँसों, क्षीण काया और अपनी अदम्य जीजिविषा की प्रतीक मुस्कराहट ओढ़े इरोम शर्मिला की तस्वीर भारत के महान लोकतंत्र और जगमगाती अर्थव्यवस्था के चहरे पर एक गहरे प्रश्नवाचक चिन्ह की तरह दिखाई देती है| बारह वर्षों से अपनी ज़िद और सिक्किम की जनता के प्रति अपने अगाध स्नेह तथा भारतीय सेना के सशस्त्र सैन्य विशेषाधिकार कानून (AFSPA)  के तहत ज़ारी अमानवीय दमन के खिलाफ़ वह अनशन पर हैं| लेकिन दिल्ली के रामलीला मैदानों पर ज़ारी अनशनों से पिघल जाने वाली सरकारें हों या उबल जाने वाली मीडिया या फिर मचल जाने वाला हमारा ‘ग्रेट इन्डियन मिडल क्लास’, इस एक दशक के व्रत के दौरान उसने अक्सर चुप रहकर नज़रअंदाज करने का विकल्प ही चुना है| उत्तरपूर्व हो की कश्मीर या अन्य उत्पीड़ित राष्ट्रीयताएँ, भारतीय मुख्यधारा की रूचि बस ‘अविभाज्य अंग’ होने तक ही सीमित है और सारी सक्रियता इस अविभाज्यता को एन-केन प्रकारेण बचाए रखने तक| उन अभिशप्त हिस्सों के नागरिकों के दुःख-दर्द, उनकी मानवीय इच्छायें तथा लोकतांत्रिक आकांक्षायें और उनकी आवाज़ भारतीय शासक वर्ग की चिंताओं का हिस्सा कभी नहीं बन पाते|

डेढ़ सौ सालों के लम्बे औपनिवेशिक शासन में अंग्रेजी हुकूमत से इस महाद्वीप की उत्पीड़ित जनता के हर हिस्से ने तीखी लड़ाई लड़ी थी| सूदूर उत्तर-पूर्व में भी अंग्रेजी शासन के खिलाफ़ लंबा और फैसलाकुन संघर्ष चला था| अंग्रेजी शासन के पहले स्वतंत्र रहे इन राज्यों ने आज़ादी के बाद एक लोकतांत्रिक, शांतिपूर्ण, सेकुलर और समतामूलक समाज के निर्माण के स्वप्न के साथ भारतीय लोकतंत्र का हिस्सा बनना स्वीकार किया था| आज़ादी उनके लिए उन स्वप्नों को साकार होता देख पाने के अवसर के रूप में आई थी| कश्मीर में शेख अब्दुल्ला के नेतृत्व वाले नेशनल कांफ्रेंस ने कश्मीर के तात्कालिक डोगरा शासक हरि सिंह के स्वतंत्र राज्य बनाये रखने के और मीर वायज के बरक्स एक लोकतांत्रिक और सेकुलर स्टेट बनाने के पक्ष में आन्दोलन चलाया और इसी आकांक्षा के साथ भारतीय राज्य को पाकिस्तान के सामंती राज्य की जगह चुना| यहाँ यह बता देना उचित ही होगा की ठीक इसी समय मुस्लिम और हिन्दू कट्टरपंथी राजा के साथ सहयोग कर रहे थे| यह किस्सा कई अलग-अलग पूर्व रियासतों में दुहराया गया, लेकिन जनता की ताकतों ने अपना पक्ष बेहतरी के लिए चुना और उसके लिए बलिदान भी दिए|

खैर, बात मणिपुर की हो रही थी और मणिपुर का कई दूसरे उत्तर-पूर्वी राज्यों की ही तरह थोड़ा अलग किस्सा है| मणिपुर अपने इतिहास में कभी भी भारतीय केन्द्रीय शासन व्यवस्था का हिस्सा नहीं रहा| चाहे वह मुगलों का राज्य हो, या उसके पहले सम्राट अशोक या चन्द्रगुप्त का समय, यह क्षेत्र हमेशा एक स्वतन्त्र राज्य रहा| 1891 में अंग्रजी प्रभुत्व में आने के बाद यह औपनिवेशिक भारत का हिस्सा बना| १९४२ में द्वितीय विश्वयुद्ध में यहाँ के तत्कालीन राजा बोधचंद्र ने युद्ध में अंग्रेजों का साथ देने का आह्वान किया और फरवरी १९४२ में नेताजी सुभास चन्द्र बोस की आजाद हिंद फ़ौज ने इम्फाल पर भयावह बमबारी के बाद कब्जा कर लिया| इस बमबारी में राज्य के लगभग सभी प्रमुख प्रशासक तथा व्यापारी मारे गए और पूरा इम्फाल वीरान हो गया| भारतीय उपमहाद्वीप के इतिहास में पहली बार जनरल मलिक ने यहाँ आज़ाद हिंद फ़ौज का झंडा फहराया| युद्ध के बाद राजा और दूसरे लोग लौटे तो लेकिन यहाँ लोकतंत्र की मांग शुरू हो चुकी थी| राजा ने नया संविधान बनवाया और अपने एक भाई को प्रधानमन्त्री नियुक्त किया| भारत की आजादी के बाद उन्होंने यहाँ चुनाव की घोषणा की और उस चुनाव में अन्य पार्टियों के अलावा कांग्रेस पार्टी ने भी हिस्सा लिया| प्रजा शान्ति और कृषक सभा की सरकार चुनी गयी तथा राजा के भाई का मुख्यमंत्री बनना तय हुआ| लेकिन इसी बीच राजा को शिलांग बुलाया गया और अगर उनकी माने तो बन्दूक की नोंक पर उनसे भारतीय राज्य में विलय के दस्तावेज़ पर हस्ताक्षर करा लिए गए| एक साल के भीतर ही जब इस नयी सरकार को सत्ता सौंपने की तैयारी चल रही थी तो इसे भंग कर दिया गया और रावल अमर सिंह मणिपुर के पहले भारतीय चीफ कमिश्नर बनाए गए| १९५६ में इसे एक केंद्र शासित प्रदेश का दर्ज़ा दिया गया और बाद में १९७२ में पूर्ण राज्य का| मणिपुर में अलगाववादी आन्दोलनों का इतिहास भारतीय राज्य में उसके विलय जितना ही पुराना है|

इस अलगाववादी आन्दोलन के बावजूद १९७८ तक इसका राज्य में कोई बड़ा आधार नहीं था| लेकिन भारतीय राज्य में विलय के साथ ही १९५८ में बने ‘सशस्त्र सेना विशेषाधिकार नियम’ के तहत मणिपुर में सेना की तैनाती और राज्य की आकांक्षाओं के अनुरूप विकास कार्यों को संपन्न करा सकने की अक्षमता ने इस राज्य में अलगाववादी आन्दोलन के लिए खाद-पानी का काम किया| भारतीय राज्य में जबरन विलय को लेकर जो असंतोष था वह अकूत अधिकार प्राप्त सेना के दमन के चलते और तेज़ी से फैला तथा स्वतन्त्र मणिपुर राज्य की मांग को लेकर अलग-अलग तरह के तमाम आन्दोलन मणिपुर में फ़ैल गए| चार मार्च, २०१२ में ज़ारी अपनी एक रिपोर्ट में ह्यूमन राईट वाच संस्था का स्पष्ट मानना है की मणिपुर में फैले आतंकवाद के पीछे सेना का दमन है| जैसे-जैसे अलगाववादी आन्दोलन जड़ पकड़ते गए यह दमन बढ़ता ही गया और बच्चे, बूढ़े, औरतें सब इसकी जद में आते चले गए|

ऐसी ही एक घटना में बस स्टाप पर प्रतीक्षा कर रहे दस लोगों की ह्त्या के विरोध में उस वक़्त एक मानवाधिकार समूह ‘ह्यूमन राइट्स एलर्ट’ में काम कर रही तथा कवियत्री इरोम ने अपना अनशन शुरू किया था| उस घटना के बाद एक कागज़ पर उन्होंने लिखा – शांति का स्रोत क्या है और इसका अंत क्या है? अगले दिन अपनी माँ के हाथों पकाया भोजन खाने के बाद वह अनशन पर बैठ गयीं| यह इस दमन के प्रतिरोध का गांधीवादी तरीका था| उनकी मांग स्पष्ट थी – सशस्त्र सैन्य विशेषाधिकार कानून को वापस लिया जाय| ज़िद ऐसी की उन्होंने दांत साफ़ करने के लिए भी रूई का सहारा लिया ताकि पानी की एक बूँद भी शरीर में न जाए| लेकिन उसकी इस ज़िद का सम्मान करने तथा उनसे बात करने की जगह  अनशन शुरू करने के अगले ही दिन, तीन नवम्बर २००० को मणिपुर पुलिस ने उन्हें आत्महत्या के प्रयास के आरोप में गिरफ्तार कर लिया और तब से अब तक इसी क़ानून के तहत बिना किसी पेशी या मुक़दमे के उन्हें गिरफ्तारी में रखा गया है| ज्ञातव्य है की इस आरोप में किसी को भी एक साल से अधिक गिरफ्तार नहीं रखा जा सकता|

आज उनके अनशन के बारह साल पूरा हो जाने पर भी कहीं कोई हलचल दिखाई नहीं देती| इसे क्या कहा जाय? सरकार की बेरुखी या गांधीवादी तरीके की असफलता? सबसे ज़्यादा खलने वाली बात है मीडिया और बौद्धिक वर्ग की चुप्पी| यह चुप्पी इरोम की नहीं, दरअसल हमारे लोकतंत्र की हार है|    

This is an article written by Ashok Kumar Pandey, a social activist and poet from Gwalior. He is also a part of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign.  


Twelfth Article in the article-series on Irom: Persevering for Victory of Belief


As a recent move of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign (SSSC), a nationwide protest against the neglect and suppression of Irom Sharmila, is observing 12 Article series to reflect 12 years of suppression of Irom Sharmila's fast.

In this series one article per day will be published on its website and will be dedicated to one year fast of Irom.

This will conclude on 5th November, the day when Irom Sharmila will be unfortunately completing her 12 years of stuggle. 

Here's the twelfth and final article:



Persevering for Victory of Belief

By Manish Kumar



I don’t know from where to begin and so let me begin with a name- Irom Sharmila Chanu. In many ways, this name represents the collective effort of the people of Manipur. It strikes in one’s mind the idea of non-violence and peaceful protest. Yes, she had been on a fast for the last 12 years against the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA), demanding that this draconian piece of legislation be removed urgently. AFSPA is in force in almost all north eastern states of India but it is in Manipur that the inhumane face of this law is most manifest. Under AFSPA, there have been gross violations of human rights in north eastern states of India and Sharmila is just one victim. AFSPA totally shatters the human dignity and questions one’s basic right to live peacefully and happily.

Sometime back, I was discussing the AFSPA with a friend of mine who hails from Manipur. He accepted that people live there in a constant fear of both, the military and the militants. He had planned on going home for Christmas but when he called up his parents in Imphal, they suggested that he stay in the Institute where he is studying because a lot of violence and gunfire was going on between the military and the militants and even between different militant groups. Long hair, funky toned jeans or traditional rural dress are reasons enough to be subjected to questioning by the military. Due to AFSPA, many have been wrongfully arrested and fake encounters have become common place. He said people are not allowed to organize seminars and councils and if you have the temerity to organize one, your life is in danger. Several people, many young men and women included, have been arrested on this charge. Bombing and shooting has become the norm. The value for human life is zero; life starts late and day ends early even in the festive seasons. Extra Judicial Deaths are happening regularly, abusive language and misuse of authority prevails on daily basis but no one is listening.

AFSPA also ensures that infrastructural development never reaches the North-East. For example, BSNL is the only company allowed to run and operate a telephone network in this part of the country. Unemployment is high and statistics related to education are not heartening either. Most importantly, there is no strong body to blow the whistle at the exploitation of human rights. Policy makers have totally failed to understand the root of the problem.

AFSPA seems to be primarily a strategy for fear-mongering by the government and one has to say that it has succeeded. It has to be removed; this is no way to rule. AFSPA often evades sense and even pushes more people to militancy. In a way AFSPA is a driving force behind militancy as the killing of innocent people and the limitless torture spur more of the youth to seek a violent revenge. As almost all constitutional remedies fail them, they swear to answer blood with blood.

AFSPA suppresses people and has been used as a convenient strategy by the government to hold a strong position against the north eastern states, which have been demanding for sovereignty and autonomy since Independence. Perhaps, the rest of India should listen to Sharmila. There are various ways by which India can show concern to north eastern states like recognition, reinforcement, development, care and attention towards it’s people.

Lastly, I just want to say that 12 years is a very long time and the government should realize this and take positive steps towards Irom Sharmila and her demands and the people of Manipur. NHRC and other human rights looking bodies should also take initiative and direct the government of India to react resolve this concern as soon as possible.

Manish Kumar is a student at IIT-Madras. He is a volunteer of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign. He can be mailed at manishiit.kumar14@gmail.com

Also published at: http://www.countercurrents.org/mkumar051112.htm

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Eleventh Article in the article series - The Iron Lady



As a recent move of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign (SSSC), a nationwide protest against the neglect and suppression of Irom Sharmila, is observing 12 Article series to reflect 12 years of suppression of Irom Sharmila's fast.

In this series one article per day will be published on its website and will be dedicated to one year fast of Irom.

This will conclude on 5th November, the day when Irom Sharmila will be unfortunately completing her 12 years of stuggle. 

Here's the eleventh article:


The Iron Lady

By Julius Tongbram



Truth is the first casualty of war. No exception. What happens out in the land of the Kangleicha’s now is a shameful history of anger, lies and empty promises.

Who is to be blamed? That is the question everyone ponders upon. Only a handful seems to be bothered to ask what lies ahead. Only a handful seems to care enough to look around for a solution. There are many to be blamed. It ranges from each one of us all the way to the so-called elected bodies who are supposed to represent “The People”.

This time every year, we vent our anger and disappointment in manners that is of no help to the cause. Those few who try and put it into action are hopelessly helpless and out of options. In the land of Kangleicha’s, home to warriors who fought for their land countless times against foreign hands, lingers a woman fighting relentlessly for twelve years. Here we are, talking and writing about her. Here we are, sitting cosily in our homes and writing a few lines to sing praises of her.

Sadly, that is all that we can do. Why? Because we aren’t made of what she is made of. There she lies on a hospital bed fighting for us. Silent. Resolved. Patient. Faithful. If she falls, blames fall in our hands. There will probably be a pandemonium for the next few days. Things could change with that surge of anger and force.

There would be one question that would come to my mind then. Why have we been silent for so long while she fights a long and lonely battle for all of us?

There are many ifs and buts that will come into place to discuss the situation in hand. However, few seem to consider humanity and compassion as a matter of concern. One cannot describe the magnitude of the indifference and disregard that has been meted out by each one of us towards her plight. It is only left to time now.

I can’t say or do anything differently to put this dilemma to an end. Unfortunately, the fate of Kangleicha’s future is tied to her now whether one wants to accept it or not. What saddens me the most is that there is very little hope to end this anytime soon and work towards a brighter future for those who are affected by this plague of fear, uncertainty and indecision.

They say, miracles do happen at the most unexpected of times. We, Kangleicha’s could use one now.

Julius Tongbram is a MBA student from Bangalore. He is the Guwahati co-ordinator for Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign. He can be mailed at j.tongbram@yahoo.com

Also published at http://e-pao.net/epSubPageExtractor.asp?src=features.Profile_of_Manipuri_Personalities.Irom_Sharmila.The_Irom_Lady

http://www.countercurrents.org/tongbram041112.htm



Saturday, 3 November 2012

Tenth Article on Irom Sharmila: IN HOPE OF SAVING “THE SAVIOUR OF HOPE”...

As a recent move of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign (SSSC), a nationwide protest against the neglect and suppression of Irom Sharmila, is observing 12 Article series to reflect 12 years of suppression of Irom Sharmila's fast.

In this series one article per day will be published on its website and will be dedicated to one year fast of Irom.

This will conclude on 5th November, the day when Irom Sharmila will be unfortunately completing her 12 years of stuggle. 

Here's the tenth article:


IN HOPE OF SAVING “THE SAVIOUR OF HOPE”... 
By Mouli Banerjee

Each second resounds in my wristwatch tonight- a click and a click and a click further into time, a moment and a moment and another moment lost; a world in need, crying out for change, here I am, in my feeble attempt to contribute, staring at the computer screen, wondering where to begin. The room is silent and pregnant with poignant thoughts. At a friend’s suggestion, I have prepared myself to write an article on Irom Sharmila. My regimented mind, trained to think in terms of pointers and academic discussions, had involuntarily made a list of things to say about her. But such is the power of an existence like hers, way above the mortal ordinariness that defines the life of someone like me, that my silly mental bullet-points blur into each other till in the force of all that Irom Sharmila stands for, each thought melts into another and floods my brain; all that is left is a river of emotions.

The Iron Lady of Manipur, to use the clichéd phrase now identified with Irom Sharmila, has been on a fast since November 5, 2000. She has written to the highest authorities in the country, she has personally met dignitaries who have all promised her their support, she has marched to iconic landmarks to direct public attention to her uniquely resilient protest. All of this, for one straightforward demand that hasn’t wavered over twelve years- the repealing of AFSPA. Her protest came into the limelight for most people in my generation through the comparision of her fast to anti-corruption protests led by Anna Hazare and his team. To question or justify the validity of that particular movement would require digressing into unrelated territories, but one must note that as far as resilience and fasting was concerned, Irom Sharmila’s dedication to her cause was way superior to that of her counterparts in the anti-corruption movement. And yet, not only did the media focus its attentions on the movement led by Anna Hazare, but the movement itself proved to be a political game-changer for India, with the Ruling Party cowering under the pressures of the protesting public and the Opposition sweeping in to declare its sympathies with it.

I feel that this is relevant to the case of Irom Sharmila in two ways, as a glimmer of hope and a cause of despair as well. Hope perhaps resides in the fact that the Indian society is evidently capable of being an agent of change, if it so chooses. The cause of despair, quite obviously in this case, is that for them, the bitter, painful political statement of Irom Sharmila is perhaps nothing but a unique piece of news. The ones who sympathise with her too are perhaps only move to a state of awe but nothing more ensues out of it.
As opposed to teams of powerful men and women creating rallies for their cause, here is a woman, an ordinary woman, who decided one morning to fight for not just her own rights but the rights of her people. Here is a woman who is also a sister, a daughter and had aspirations like any other twenty-eight year old would, and she put all her ordinary dreams on hold in order to fulfill a greater destiny, to bear a light for others to follow. Here is a woman who declared a hunger strike twelve years ago for a particular cause and has stuck by her resolve.

As I write on at this moment, emotions rule my fingers and I’ll not deny, that there are indeed times when the cynic in me slowly speaks up, reminding me that given the history of the Indian State, that in spite of everything, the AFSPA will perhaps not be repealed, that it is really the poetry of the lost cause that appeals to the futile imaginations of a stagnated public that constitutes this nation. And then just as I encounter such thoughts, I remind myself that life is much, much more than cynicism. That Irom Sharmila’s protest is not one of despair; it is one of pure hope, something that still believes in appealing to a human sense of compassion and justice. Every day, she works a little further towards her goal, whether it is in her stubborn determination to continue fasting or her recent refusal of any awards till the AFSPA be repealed. She need not make a political statement at a press meet- her entire existence itself is a political protest of the highest order. Not all of us perhaps can be as extraordinary in our courage, but if she cannot inspire us to bring about a change in whatever little way possible, nothing perhaps can.

When I think of her and her hopes, I’m reminded of Joseph Conrad’s words-
“I remember my youth and the feeling that will never come back any more- the feeling that I could last forever, outlast the sea, the earth and all men… the triumphant conviction of strength, the heart of life in the handful of dust, the glow in the heart that with every year grows cold, grows small, and expires- and expires too soon, too soon- before life itself!”

Before I can claim to contribute to save Sharmila, I must admit that she has saved me, by inspiring me with a purpose. Here is a woman who has sacrificed her youth for her people, and here’s hoping that the hope doesn’t leave her ever. Here’s hoping that the people rise up in support, inspired, to keep the torch of human rights she has lit, burning and alive.

Mouli Banerjee is enrolled in the MA program at St. Stephens college, DU. She is a volunteer of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign. 

Also published at http://www.countercurrents.org/banerjee031112.htm

http://e-pao.net/epSubPageExtractor.asp?src=features.Profile_of_Manipuri_Personalities.Irom_Sharmila.In_Hope_Of_Saving_The_Saviour_Of_Hope

Friday, 2 November 2012

Ninth Article in the article-series: Irom’s unmet demands: Government’s excuse, a political blasphemy to cover their failure in reinstating peace


As a recent move of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign (SSSC), a nationwide protest against the neglect and suppression of Irom Sharmila, is observing 12 Article series to reflect 12 years of suppression of Irom Sharmila's fast.

In this series one article per day will be published on its website and will be dedicated to one year fast of Irom.

This will conclude on 5th November, the day when Irom Sharmila will be unfortunately completing her 12 years of stuggle. 

Here's the ninth article:

Irom’s unmet demands: Government’s excuse, a political blasphemy to cover their failure in reinstating peace 

By Pankaj Pathak



Irom sharmila’s name symbolizes with sacrifice and compassion and truly she is unsung hero of not only India but also of world when it comes to peace and harmony. She is the sole torch bearer of values and path shown by Mahatma Gandhi, the father of nation for demanding one’s rights in most polite and democratic manner but still a victim of ignorance of nation and government which observes 2nd Oct as most auspicious day in history of our democracy and country. She in actual manner deserves a title as “Daughter of nation”, for her courage and grit for fighting on behalf of people’s causes while her life is on stake. Biographically, she has a name as civil rights activist and poet from Manipur, fasting from last 12 years with demand of  Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) be repealed.  But another unnoticed human angle of her is that, she is also a lady who must have had dreams of living a life like every other woman. Ironically this dream for her became insignificant with an incidence happened in “Malom, Manipur, Nov, 2000” in which 10 innocent citizens including women and children were killed by Assam Rifles unit responding to an earlier attack by the armed insurgents against the Assam Rifles. This particular incidence has transformed the mind of Irom and she started her fast-to-death hunger strike thereafter. It has passed more than a decade but resolve and grit of the “Iron lady” remained intact with her demand of repealing AFSPA. This continuing struggle of her for the justice and rights of people shows the compassion and value of every human life in her heart and mind. However government is defying her demands and the toll of human casualty both of civilians and armed forces in insurgency hit states are on rise, reflecting the insensitivity for human life and lack of political will of every elected government to resolve the issue. The saddest part is that judiciary in which we still have faith is also looking hand in hand on this issue with government and amongst civil societies those who espoused Irom's demand have been appalled by zero reaction on the name of AFSPA being issue of a national security.

Induction of AFSPA was to restore order and discipline but instead it turned few arm-force personals autocratic with largesse of power. As a result of such unchecked empowerment, their actions no longer have redeeming values as acts of discipline, because they have done enough damage to respect for a societal institution of democracy, human rights and governance. Therefore the government should understand that reconsidering the AFSPA and paying heed to Irom’s demand would send a message across the insurgents of empowerment of the non violent and democratic manner of protest and demands for rightful causes.

Nevertheless, the military should also be part of decision making along with government and reaching to a permanent solution of insurgency hit areas as removal of AFSPA without consultation may adversely affect the moral of armed forces. However, it seems that some quarters of political fraternity and armed forces are not willing to resolve the problem for some political mileage and dragging the issue for decades and slowly making people’s mind to live with it as it’s never ending. But, we are fortunate to have the hope and inspiration in the form of Irom to fight and need to stand behind her and demand our rights of freedom to live a fearless life. The nation is ours, so the government and they need to listen to us as our demands are constitutional rights. For the sake of humanity, communal harmony, love, compassion and most importantly reclaiming our democratic and constitutional rights, we need to come together and fight for our demands along with Irom. I would also like to pay homage to the all the lives lost in insurgency and end up here with a inquisitive quote of Julian Assange, founder, spokesperson, internet activist, and editor in chief of WikiLeaks, “Every time we witness an injustice and do not act, we train our character to be passive in its presence and thereby eventually lose all ability to defend ourselves and those we love.”

Pankaj Pathak is a volunteer of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign. He is a core member of Mission Bhartiyam. He can be reached at pankgem@gmail.com

Also published at http://www.countercurrents.org/pathak021112.htm

http://e-pao.net/epSubPageExtractor.asp?src=features.Profile_of_Manipuri_Personalities.Irom_Sharmila.Irom_Sharmila_unmet_demands_Government_excuse_a_political_blasphemy_to_cover_their_failure_in_reinstating_peace


Thursday, 1 November 2012

Eigth Article in the Article series: Irom - An inspiration for students

As a recent move of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign (SSSC), a nationwide protest against the neglect and suppression of Irom Sharmila, is observing 12 Article series to reflect 12 years of suppression of Irom Sharmila's fast.

In this series one article per day will be published on its website and will be dedicated to one year fast of Irom.

This will conclude on 5th November, the day when Irom Sharmila will be unfortunately completing her 12 years of stuggle. 

Here's the eigth article:

Irom: An inspiration for students

By Zaheeb Ajmal

This article is dedicated to Irom by a group of students from Patna.


Irom Chanu Sharmila, the crusader against AFSPA, who has been on hunger strike since 4th November 2000, is still unknown to the major part of India. On 5th May 2011, the day when we got to know about the Iron Lady of Manipur through a play, “Le Mashale”, performed by Ojas SV, we were in deep shock. It was an eye opener of the unexplored land of India. We have never been told about the problems and the torture the people of Manipur face each and every day. The play was heart touching and moved us so much that it instigated us to gather more knowledge about it and this consequently resulted in us joining the fight of the Iron Lady.

We decided to campaign in and around Patna and let people know about the North east and its problems. We slowly and steadily came to know about the hardcore realities. The draconian law has been imposed in the northeast since 1958, but it is shameful that very few among us knew about her. The media which is termed as the “fourth pillar of the democracy” has been partial in the case of Manipur. We had rarely seen any news channel reporting or any print media reporting about the protest going on in Manipur every day. We were stopped and questioned by senior countrymen, why are we bothering about Manipur? Are we from Manipur?  We were advised to worry about our city and state problems. Some were worried and lost their enthusiasm but it was Irom’s struggle that refilled the enthusiasm. They came back with more passion and dedication. These kids are from those groups who generally “don’t care” about the society and its worries. They proved us wrong and work day and night for the campaign because they think that the fight we have joined has to be fought till end and they think that AFSPA should be diluted.

After watching the play, Le Mashale, these students formed a group, named “Le Mashale” and organized an event on 1st July 2011 to aware the people of their city about the atrocities faced by people of Manipur. The number of people who attended it was unbelievable. It drew attention of media, activists of Patna. When asked about how they managed it, they said it is Irom struggle which gave us inspiration. They added, Why has society became so insensitive, where you care about a person who in 12 day fast but not even pay any heed to a person who is on 12 year hunger strike. Why we discriminate our brothers and sister from Northeast .They also said that everyone should about her struggle and the government should listen to her. These students also joined the “SAVE SHARMILA SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGN”, which they coordinated in Bihar. At the last, Irom’s struggle has ignited a passion in our soul, we salute the lady and we are in support for her till the battle against AFSPA is won.

This article has been written by Zaheeb Ajmal on behalf of the students. He is the patna co-ordinator of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign. He is also a member of Samar and of the students’ group for Irom, Le Mashale. He can be mailed at zaheebajmal@gmail.com

Also published at http://www.countercurrents.org/ajmal011112.htm

http://e-pao.net/epSearchResults.asp?cx=partner-pub-3342616103029311%3A3788634109&cof=FORID%3A10&ie=UTF-8&q=zaheeb

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Seventh Article in Article Series: Unmatched Saga of Relentless Struggle - Irom Sharmila Chanu


As a recent move of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign (SSSC), a nationwide protest against the neglect and suppression of Irom Sharmila, is observing 12 Article series to reflect 12 years of suppression of Irom Sharmila's fast.

In this series one article per day will be published on its website and will be dedicated to one year fast of Irom.

This will conclude on 5th November, the day when Irom Sharmila will be unfortunately completing her 12 years of stuggle. 

Here's the seventh article:

Unmatched Saga of Relentless Struggle - Irom Sharmila Chanu


By Mandavi Yadav



She is called the “Iron Lady of Manipur”. A civil rights activist and a poet from Manipur, India, she's the one and only Irom Sharmila Chanu, who have been on a fast for over twelve years now. Her only plea to the Indian government is to take away the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 which empowers the military to shoot down just anyone on mere suspicion.

She has been consistently and incessantly continuing the fast but in vein. But, what has motivated and continues to motivate her to consider this harsh tone? A thought of the Malom Massacre...

On that fatal Thursday, November 2, 2000, ten ordinary people were  shot and wiped out through the eighth Assam Rifles while they were waiting for the bus at a bus-stand in Malom, an urban area within the Imphal town of Manipur. The following day, the local dailies carried the atrocious and cruel pictures from their dead physiques, together with a 62-years old lady, Leisangbam Ibetombi, and 18-years old Sinam Chandramani, a 1988 National Child Bravery Award champion. In the news, all of them including the 62 year old lady and the Bravery Award winner were declared to be “militants”. This incident is referred to as the “Malom Massacre”.

Enraged by these increased atrocities from the military, 28-years-old Sharmila, who would observe fast every Thursday since childhood, decided to dedicate the fast to draw attention of the Government towards these atrocities. But little did she know that, her fast would continue for 12 years. She is neither taking water nor food. On November 4, 2000 she visited the spot where the incident had occured and stated her utmost step - to fast-unto-dying till AFSPA is taken away.

Sharmila stated, "I had been traumatised by the sight. There is no way to stop the further intrusion by the military... It (fast) is the best way, it is a spiritual fight... My fast is with respect to the folks of Manipur. This isn't an individual fight, it's symbolic. It's an indication of truth, peace and love."

Around the third day of her fast, she was arrested and charged with 'attempt to commit suicide', under section 309 of the Indian Penal Code. The Government decided to keep her on a nasal feeding of a semi liquid substance, just to keep her alive while keeping her under house-arrest. Every year, she is re-arrested.

Born on March 14, 1972, since childhood Sharmila was quite incomparable from other women in her own locality. She was modest, a basic girl having a couple of selected buddies. She didn't like dressing,  she neither used any cosmetics nor any jewellery. She was habitual of reading Bhagwad Gita and practised yoga and began learning naturopathy and stenography.

A lady like Sharmila is unequalled; she's actively fighting for her region, for her people without getting her very own individual interests. Her fast is possibly, the longest hunger-strike ever. She’s not been eating or drinking, even a droplet of water since November, 2000. She's been kept alive through the painful procedure of nasal feeding. She's now living in an exceedingly pitiable condition. She doesn’t comb her hair, does not check herself in the mirror and cleans her teeth with a dry cotton. She is internally week, her menstrual cycles have stopped. Whenever she will get a chance, she tries to do away with the nasal tube.

According to a report of BBC on her health stated, "Doctors  are saying that her fasting has got an immediate effect on normal functions of her body - her bones have grown to be brittle and some medical disorder are worsening her body too."

She's a lady, a beacon of hope and peace, a genuine fighter who has fought against this fight, for so long and all alone, with no media hype. While Baba Ramdev and Anna Hazare fasted for any couple of days and the whole nation was with them(a huge credit goes to the media), Sharmila's fight is a lonely one. Here it is! Sharmila, you undoubtedly are a legend and has proven the fighting spirit of humankind.

Mandavi Yadav is from Chandigarh. She is an entreprenuer and currently running an event company. She is passionate about working for a change and writes articles as a tool for activism. She can be reached at mandavi.707@gmail.com

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Article series on Irom: इरोम शर्मि‍ला : सेना नहीं जनतंत्र चाहि‍ए


As a recent move of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign (SSSC), a nationwide protest against the neglect and suppression of Irom Sharmila, is observing 12 Article series to reflect 12 years of suppression of Irom Sharmila's fast.

In this series one article per day will be published on its website and will be dedicated to one year fast of Irom.

This will conclude on 5th November, the day when Irom Sharmila will be unfortunately completing her 12 years of stuggle. 

Here's an article in Hindi: 

इरोम शर्मि‍ला : सेना नहीं जनतंत्र चाहि‍ए



वह लोकतंत्र की तलाश में बारह सालों से भूखी प्‍यासी कैद में है। उसेसेना नहीं लोकतंत्र चाहि‍ए। दमन नहीं सम्‍मान चाहि‍ए। हमने लोकतंत्र कीतलाश में जान कुर्बान करने वाले नहीं देखे । लोकतंत्र के जुनूनी नहीं देखे।क्रांति‍ ,राष्‍ट्रवाद और राष्‍ट्र से अलग स्‍वतंत्र देश की मांग के लि‍एजोखि‍म उठाने वाले सुने हैं।लेकि‍न लोकतंत्र और मनुष्‍यों के अधि‍कारों केलि‍ए जान की कुर्बानी देने वाले नहीं सुने।

हमने ऐसी औरतें देखीहैं जो सुखी संसार खोजती हैं।गहने खोजती हैं। मकान खोजती हैं। अच्‍छा वरखोजती हैं। कॉस्‍मेटि‍क्‍स खोजती हैं। सजने संवरने में अनंत समय खर्च करतीहैं। आत्‍ममुग्‍ध नायि‍का की तरह स्‍वयं के सम्‍मोहन में कैद रहती हें।लेकि‍न एक ऐसी औरत भी है जो न सजती है ,न संवरती है ,उसका एकमात्रसाज-श्रृंगार है लोकतंत्र।

अगर कोई पूछे औरत को क्‍या चाहि‍एमैं कहूँगा लोकतंत्र । आदि‍वासी को क्‍या चाहि‍ए ? लोकतंत्र। गरीबों कोक्‍या चाहि‍ए ?लोकतंत्र । देश में लोकतंत्र है या नहीं यह इस बात से तयहोगा कि‍ आदि‍वासि‍यों ,औरतों और अति‍गरीबों के जीवन में लोकतंत्र वहुँचाहै कि‍ नहीं। इनके जीवन में लोकतंत्र का वातावरण बना है या नहीं। लोकतंत्रकी पहचान का मानक वोट नहीं है। चुनी हुई सरकार नहीं है। लोकतंत्र का अर्थहै आदि‍वासी ,औरत और अल्‍पसंख्‍यकों के लि‍ए लोकतंत्र की गारंटी।लोकतांत्रि‍क वातावरण की सृष्‍टि‍। मानवाधि‍कारों की अबाधि‍त गारंटी। इसपैमाने पर केन्‍द्र सरकार वि‍गत साठ सालों में बुरी तरह वि‍फल रही है।

आदि‍वासी,औरत और अल्‍पसंख्‍यक हमारे समाज की धुरी हैं। बहुसंख्‍यकआबादी इन्‍हीं तीन समूहों में नि‍वास करती है और इनमें लोकतंत्र के दर्शनदूर-दूर तक नहीं होते। इन तीनों समूहों के जीवन में लोकतंत्र औरमानवाधि‍कारों के अभाव और हनन को आए दि‍न अपनी आंखों के सामने देखते हैं औरचुप रहते हैं।

आप शहर में रहते हैं या गांवों में ,गरीब हैं याअमीर हैं,महानगर में रहते हैं या आदि‍वासी जंगलों में। कुछ देर के लि‍एवि‍चार कीजि‍ए क्‍या हम अपने समाज में आदि‍वासी, औरत और अल्‍पसंख्‍यकों कोदैनन्‍दि‍न जीवन में लोकतांत्रि‍क ढंग से जीने देते हैं ? क्‍या इन समूहोंको इनकी शर्तों पर जीने देते हैं। जी नहीं। इसके वि‍परीत इनके लोकतांत्रि‍कहकों का हनन करते रहते हैं। हम अभी भी अंदर से अलोकतांत्रि‍क बने हुए हैं।

हमारेदेश में लोकतंत्र का प्रहसन चल रहा है। इसमें हम सब मजा लेरहे हैं। दर्शक की तरह तालि‍यां बजा रहे हैं। लोकतंत्र हमारे लि‍ए देखने कीचीज है। हम इसमें हि‍स्‍सा नहीं लेते सि‍र्फ दर्शक की तरह देखते हैं। जयहो जय हो करते हैं।

आदि‍वासी,औरत और अल्‍पसंख्‍यकों के प्रतीक याआइकॉन के रूप में हमारे बीच में एक औरत है जो लोकतंत्र के इस प्रहसन मेंताली बजाने को तैयार नहीं है। वह लोकतंत्र में हि‍स्‍सा लेना चाहती है। वहदर्शक बने रहना नहीं चाहती। उसके लि‍ए मानवाधि‍कार कागजी चीजें नहीं हैं।वह एक लेखि‍का है उसने सैंकड़ों कवि‍ताएं लि‍खी हैं। उसे अपनी कवि‍ता केलि‍ए लोकतंत्र की तलाश है। वह लोकतंत्र और मानवाधि‍कारों के बि‍ना जिंदानहीं रहना चाहती। इसके लि‍ए वह दस साल से भूख हडताल पर है। वह शांति‍पूर्णप्रति‍वाद कर रही है।

उसने कभी हिंसा नहीं की। उसके खि‍लाफराज्‍य की संपत्‍ति‍ नष्‍ट करने का भी आरोप नहीं है। वह केन्‍द्र सरकार केखि‍लाफ राजद्रोह में भी शामि‍ल नहीं रही।उसके खि‍लाफ कि‍सी भी कि‍स्‍म केअपराध का मामला सरकार नहीं बना पायी है। इसके बावजूद वह मणि‍पुर में कैद है। वह लोकतंत्र की देवी है उसका नाम है इरोम चानू शर्मि‍ला।

आज सेठीक दस साल पहले 2 नबम्‍बर 2000 को उसने भूख हडताल आरंभ की थी, उसकी मांगहै कि‍ मणि‍पुर से '' आर्म्‍स फोर्सेज स्‍पेशल पावर एक्‍ट 1958'' को तुरंतहटाया जाए। इस कानून के बहाने इस इलाके में सेना को उत्‍पीड़न करने के अबाधअधि‍कार मि‍ल गए हैं। इरोम का भारत के लोकतंत्र में गहरा वि‍श्‍वास है औरवह चाहती है कि‍ मणि‍पुर के नागरि‍कों के मानवाधि‍कारों की रक्षा की जाए।इस इलाके के लोगों को मानवाधि‍कारों का उपभोग करने का मौका दि‍या जाए। इरोमदस साल से भूख हडताल पर है पुलि‍स के लोग उसे नलि‍यों के जरि‍ए जबर्दस्तीखाना -पानी देते रहे हैं।

इरोम को सेना ,सत्‍ता,यश,दौलत,पद,पुरस्‍कार नहीं चाहि‍ए । वह शांति‍ से रहना चाहती है।अपने ही लोगों की सुरक्षा के साए में रहना चाहती है। इरोम आज उत्‍तरपूर्वीराज्‍यों की ही नहीं बल्‍कि‍ सारे देश के आदि‍वासि‍यों,औरतों औरअल्‍पसंख्‍यकों के लोकतांत्रि‍क अधि‍कारों के जंग की प्रतीक बन गयी है। वहमानवाधि‍कारों के लि‍ए धीरे धीरे गल रही है। उसकी मांग है कि‍ मणि‍पुर से ''सैन्‍यबल वि‍शेषाधि‍कार कानून'' हटाया जाए। पुलि‍स उसे दस साल सेजबर्दस्‍ती खाने खि‍ला रही है। उसने अपने हाथ से न तो खाना खाया है और एकबूंद पानी ही पीया है। आज वह भारत की सत्‍ता के खि‍लाफ प्रति‍वाद प्रतीक बनगयी है।
उसने वि‍शेष सैन्‍य कानून को 'नो' बोल दि‍या है। उसका 'नो' या 'नहीं' अनेकार्थी है। उसके 'नहीं' में वि‍भ्रम नहीं है। अस्‍थि‍रतानहीं है। अति‍रि‍क्‍त अर्थ अथवा अति‍रंजना भी नहीं है। उसके 'नहीं' मेंमणि‍पुरी जनता के जानोमाल,सम्‍मान और स्‍वाभि‍मान की रक्षा का भाव व्‍यक्‍तहुआ है। वह 'नो' के जरि‍ए भारतीय सत्‍ता की वि‍भेदकारी दृष्‍टि‍ को सामनेला रही है।

उत्‍तर-पूर्व के आदि‍वासि‍यों और पर्वतीय जाति‍यों केप्रति‍ केन्‍द्र सरकार की असफल और भेदभावपूर्ण राजनीति‍ पर पर्दा डालने केलि‍ए वि‍शेष सेन्‍य कानून का इस्‍तेमाल कि‍या जा रहा है। उत्‍तर-पूर्व केराज्‍यों में यह कानून एक दशक से भी ज्‍यादा समय से लागू है। इरोम ने जब इसबर्बर कानून के प्रति‍ 'नो' कहा । उसका 'नो' शौकि‍या नहीं है।स्‍वत:स्‍फूर्त्‍त नहीं है। बल्‍कि‍ सुचिंति‍त है।इरोम ने जब 'नो' बोलाथा तो यह सि‍र्फ सैन्‍य कानून के प्रति‍ इंकार नहीं था बल्‍कि‍ भारत कीराजसत्‍ता का भी अस्‍वीकार था।

इरोम जब सैन्‍य कानून को 'नो' बोलरही थी तो वह भारतीय सत्‍ता के शोषक उत्‍पीडक शासन को भी 'नो' कह रही थी,वहउन तमाम कानूनों को भी 'नो' कह रही थी जो मणि‍पुरी जनता के मानवाधि‍‍कारोंका हनन करते हैं। वह उन तमाम जाति‍यों और सामाजि‍क समूहों के प्रवि‍लेज कोभी 'नो' कह रही है जो केन्‍द्र की नीति‍यों के कारण इन्‍हें मि‍ले हैं। वहहमारे संवि‍धान में नि‍हि‍त मानवाधि‍कार वि‍रोधी कानूनों को भी 'नो' कहरही है। आज उसके 'नो' में एक नहीं अनेक 'नो' शामि‍ल हैं। वह पूंजीवादीवि‍कास की कल्‍याणकारी नीति‍यों को भी 'नो' कह रही है। उसका 'नो' मानवाधि‍कार से वंचि‍त आदि‍वासि‍यों की आवाज है।

इरोम का 'नो' एकस्‍त्री का 'नो' नहीं है। वह अपने 'नो' के जरि‍ए बता रही है कि‍ उत्‍तरपूर्व में सब कुछ सामान्‍य नहीं है। उसका 'नो' उत्‍तरपूर्व के आर्थि‍कवि‍कास की पोल खोलता है।केन्‍द्र सरकार का उत्‍तर पूर्व के राज्‍यों कोलेकर जि‍स तरह का दमनात्‍मक और उपेक्षापूर्ण रवैयया रहा है उस सबको वह 'नो' कह रही है।
इरोम का 'नो' एक औरत का 'नो' है। औरत जब कि‍सी बात पर 'नो' कहती है तो बागी कहलाती है। उसने सचमुच में मानवाधि‍कारों के लि‍एबगावत कर दी है। उसने औरत और आदि‍वासी जाति‍यों के स्‍वाभि‍मान के लि‍एबगावत कर दी है उसकी बगावत खाली नहीं जाएगी। यह ऐसी बगावत है जि‍सनेकेन्‍द्र की नींद हराम कर दी है। यह ऐसी बगावत है जि‍से सेना रोक नहीं पारही है,यह ऐसी बगावत है जि‍समें जनता की बजाय सत्‍ता हिंसा पर उतर आयी है।

हमारे देश की तमाम प्रमुख राजनीति‍क पार्टियां ,मध्‍यवर्ग -उच्‍चमध्‍यवर्ग और मीडि‍या कल्‍याणकारी राज्‍य के फल खाने में मशगूल हैं।उन्‍हें उत्‍तर पूर्व का संकट समझ में नहीं आता।उनकी इसमें कोईदि‍लचस्‍पी नहीं है।वे इरोम की भूख हडताल पर उद्वेलि‍त नहीं होते।
बौद्धि‍कों का समाज परजीवि‍यों और चंचल लोगों के रूप में इधर उधर के मसलोंपर मीडि‍या से लेकर सेमीनारों में तलवार भांजता रहता है। लेकि‍न उसेआदि‍वासि‍यों के मसले,उपेक्षा और अपमान परेशान नहीं करते। आदि‍वासी यदि‍अपनी कि‍सी समस्‍या पर समाधान के लि‍ए राजनीति‍क प्रति‍क्रि‍या व्‍यक्तकरते हैं तो तुरंत हिंसा हिंसा का हाहाकार शुरू हो जाता है।

इरोमशर्मीला के 'नो' ने भारत के बहुसांस्‍कृति‍कवाद की भी पोल खोल दी है। हमारीसत्‍ता प्रचार में बहुसांस्‍कृति‍कवाद का जि‍तना ही ढोल पीटे व्‍यवहार मेंउसने बहुसांस्‍कृति‍क सहि‍ष्‍णुता को न्‍यूनतम स्‍पेस तक नहीं दि‍या है।आज अधि‍कांश आदि‍वासी इलाके सेना के हवाले हैं अथवा साम्‍प्रदायि‍क औरपृथकतावादि‍यों के कब्‍जे में हैं। इन राज्‍यों से लोकतांत्रि‍क ताकतेंएकसि‍रे से गायब कर दी गयी हैं अथवा हाशि‍ए पर पहुँचा दी गयी हैं।इनराज्‍यों में लोकतंत्र और मानवाधकारों के अभाव में वि‍भि‍न्‍न जनजाति‍योंके बीच में वि‍द्वेष और टकराव चरर्मोत्‍कर्ष पर पहुँच गया है।

इरोमशर्मीला का प्रति‍वाद कि‍सी भी तरह पृथकतावादी नहीं है। उसकी कोई मांग भीपृथकतावादी नहीं है। इन इलाकों में वि‍शेष सैन्‍य कानून और जनता केप्रति‍नि‍धि‍यों का शासन एक साथ चल रहा है। इन दोनों में गहरा अन्‍तर्विरोघहै। सेना के शासन और मानवाधि‍कारों के अभाव में लोकतंत्र का शासन मूलत:अधि‍नायकवादी तंत्र है।

मणि‍पुर में सेना को वि‍शेष अधि‍कार देने केबाद सामाजि‍क जीवन में शांति‍ नहीं लौटी है,अपराध नहीं घटे हैं। अपराध औरउत्‍पीड़न का ग्राफ नि‍रंतर बढा है। उत्‍तर औपनि‍वेशक समाजों की यह ठोससच्‍चाई है जि‍तना ज्‍यादा पुलि‍स और सैन्‍यबलों का इस्‍तेमाल समाज केनि‍यमन के लि‍ए कि‍या गया है उतना ही अराजकता और अव्‍यवस्‍था बढ़ी है।उत्‍तर औपनि‍वेशि‍क परि‍स्‍थि‍ति‍यों और समस्‍याओं के समाधान सेना औरपुलि‍स के हाथ में देने से समस्‍या और भी उलझी है। उत्‍तर पूर्व केराज्‍यों से लेकर जम्‍मू-कश्‍मीर तक और इधर लालगढ में सेना और पुलि‍स कीजि‍तनी नि‍गरानी और हस्‍तक्षेप बढा है उससे समाज और भी ज्‍यादाअनि‍यंत्रि‍त हुआ है।
इस युग में जि‍तनी सेना उतनी ही अराजकता।जि‍तनी पुलि‍स की नि‍गरानी उतना ही ज्‍यादा अपराधी हिंसाचार। मणि‍पुर भी इसफि‍नोमि‍ना से बचा नहीं है। सरकार ने सेना को वि‍शेष अधि‍कार समाज कोअनुशासि‍त करने और दंडि‍त करने के लि‍ए दि‍ए हैं लेकि‍न इसके परि‍णामउल्‍टे नि‍कले हैं । उत्‍तर पूर्व के राज्‍यों में पहले की तुलना में आजज्‍यादा अराजकता और असुरक्षा है। जि‍नके हाथ में सत्‍ता है वे लोकतंत्र औरआजादी का नाटक कर रहे हैं। मानवाधि‍कारों के अभाव में उत्‍तर पूर्व केराज्‍यों में राष्‍ट्र-राज्‍य की पकड़ कमजोर हुई है। राष्‍ट्र-राज्‍य कीकमजोरि‍यों को छि‍पाने के लि‍ए सेना को वि‍शेष अधि‍कार देने के बहानेकेन्‍द्र अपना इन राज्‍यों में वर्चस्‍व बनाए रखना चाहता है।

आयरनीयह है कि‍ इन इलाकों में भारत सरकार का शासन है लेकि‍न आम लोगों के साथसरकार का संबंध पूरी तरह कट चुका है। आम लोग भारत में रहते हुए भी उन तमामअधि‍कारों से अपने को वंचि‍त हैं जो दि‍ल्‍ली-मुंबई-चेन्‍नई आदि‍ केनागरि‍क उपभोग कर रहे हैं। इन राज्‍यों के नागरि‍कों का दैनन्‍दि‍न अनुभवभारत सरकार और उसके तंत्र के प्रति‍ आस्‍थाएं कमजोर करता है। भारत सरकार नेअपने इन इलाकों में आतंक का हौव्‍वा खड़ा कि‍या और बाद में उसके दमन केलि‍ए सेना को वि‍शेषाधि‍कार देकर दमन चक्र आरंभ कर दि‍या।
उत्‍तरपूर्व को लेकर सत्‍ता का शानदार मीडि‍या प्रबंधन है ।भारत मेंज्‍यादातर पत्र-पत्रि‍काएं पढने वाले तक इन राज्‍यों में क्‍या हो रहाहै,सेना क्‍या कर रही है, माफि‍या गि‍रोह क्‍या कर रहे हैं, भूमि‍गत संगठनकैसे अपराधी गति‍वि‍धि‍यों में लि‍प्‍त हैं,इरोम शर्मीला कौन है और वह कि‍सबात के लि‍ए दस साल से भूख हडताल पर है इत्‍यादि‍ सवालों के बारे में आमलोग एकदम नहीं जानते। मीडि‍या में उत्‍तरपूर्व एकसि‍‍रे से गायब है।
मीडि‍या में केन्‍द्र के प्रधान राजनीति‍क दलों,सैलीब्रेटी ,फि‍ल्‍मीगाने और क्रि‍केट की खबरों के बहाने लोकतंत्र के समूचे सारवान खबरों केसंसार को अपदस्‍थ कर दि‍या गया है। मीडि‍या ने लोकतंत्र और मानवाधि‍कारोंको क्रि‍केट और सैलीब्रेटी के जरि‍ए अपदस्‍थ कर दि‍या है। राजनीति‍ में भीमीडि‍या सि‍र्फ केन्‍द्र के प्रधानदल और वि‍पक्ष की राजनीति‍ के सतहीसवालों मशगूल रहता है। उसकी क्षेत्रीय राजनीति‍ खासकर उत्‍तर पूर्वीराज्‍यों की राजनीति‍ को एजेंडा बनाने में दि‍लचस्‍पी नहीं होती। वहमानवाधि‍कारहनन के बडे सवालों में नि‍रंतर दि‍लचस्‍पी नहीं लेता।

मणि‍पुर की पुलि‍स व्‍यवस्‍था कुछ इस तरह की है कि‍ आए दि‍न थाने मेंबंदी मार दि‍ए जाते हैं अथवा एनकाउंटर करके लोग मार दि‍ए जाते हैं। जो लोगअपराध कर रहे हैं उन्‍हें पुलि‍स पकड़ नहीं पाती है इसके वि‍परीत नि‍र्दोषनागरि‍क मार दि‍ए जाते हैं। औरतों के साथ बलात्‍कार की घटनाएं इस दौरान बढीहैं। ह्यूमन राइटस वाच गुप ने मांग की है कि‍ भारत सरकार तुरंत एक्‍शन ले।क्‍योंकि‍ मणि‍पुर मेंसुरक्षाबलों और हथि‍यारबंद गि‍रोहों के द्वारा रोजर्नि‍दोष लोगों की हत्‍याएं की जा रही हैं। अपहरण कि‍या जा रहा है। यह भीमांग की है भारत सरकार तुरंत 'सैन्‍य बल (वि‍शेषाधि‍कार) कानून ' को खत्‍मकरे। उल्‍लेखनीय है इस कानून को खत्‍म करने के बारे में केन्‍द्र सरकार केद्वारा बि‍ठाई गयी कमेटी सि‍फारि‍श सन् 2004 में कर चुकी है। इसके बावजूदकेन्‍द्र सरकार ने इस जनवि‍रोधी कानून को अभी तक खत्‍म नहीं कि‍या है।

This article has been written by Dr. Jagdishwar Chaturvedi of Kolkata University. 

Also published @ http://www.janjwar.com/2011-05-27-09-06-02


Sixth Article of the Article-series: In the World's largest democracy, a democratic voice silenced for 12 years

As a recent move of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign (SSSC), a nationwide protest against the neglect and suppression of Irom Sharmila, is observing 12 Article series to reflect 12 years of suppression of Irom Sharmila's fast.

In this series one article per day will be published on its website and will be dedicated to one year fast of Irom. This will conclude on 5th November, the day when Irom Sharmila will be unfortunately completing her 12 years of struggle. 

Here's the sixth article: 

In the World's Largest Democracy, a democratic voice silenced for 12 years 

By Pallavi Ghosh


Twelve years of persistent resistance by a lady in Manipur. So what this is all about? What is Irom Sharmila against? I can only try, the rest is up to the readers. What she is really opposing is the military regime existing in Manipur. Not that long ago, the world witnessed the victory of Aung-sung-su-kyi, the Burmese political leader against similar oppressive military regime. Even in the Arab region there have been persistent protests and active movements against such oppressive structures and systems. The war is on and the result is undecided yet.

But one might argue that the case is different. India is after all a democracy and the most successful in the Indian subcontinent.  Yes, I cannot possibly deny the first part, but the latter is rather contentious, especially in a place where riots break out of ethnic differences even today and the  farmers’ suicide rate is still formidable.

Speaking about the similarity between all such regimes all over the world, all of them share a similar resistant or ignorant attitude towards any kind of critical mass movement.

Thankfully in a democracy one is at least allowed to speak. So I dare to ask as to why Irom’s 12-year-long struggle has been sidelined as though she was a child crying for her lost toy! Is it because she is a woman? Or is it because she is a common citizen and not a bureaucrat?
An entire nation was respectful and in awe of a seventy-five year-old man when he began his sole war against corruption. His week-long fast was so intimidating that it changed the course of parliamentary discussions. I am not against any activist in particular. Mr Hazare’s movement against corruption is indeed commendable. What I am against is the pretence that one pill can cure all diseases, which is rather characteristic of token democracy. Every battle has a different stake and every battle is as important as any other. Therefore, Irom’s struggle is neither a penny more nor a penny less valuable than the protests against corruption today. Moreover, isn’t unaccountability the premise of corruption and is not the misuse of power one of the heads of the ten-headed evil, namely corruption?

When students marched supporting her cause, they were lathi-charged. When political leaders and social activists pressed her cause, they were conveniently ignored.

The basic characteristic of a democracy is transparency and accountability. This is what the AFSPA violates. Uncontrolled and unchecked power is always susceptible to misuse and abuse as the adage confirms-power corrupts an absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Humanity has always been the first casualty whenever power has been misused. Therefore what Irom Sharmila has been fighting for more than a decade now is not only for democracy in its true spirit, but also for humanity. 
 

Pallavi Ghosh is a  student at IIMC Orissa. She is a volunteer of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign.

Also published at http://www.countercurrents.org/ghosh301012.htm

http://e-pao.net/epSubPageExtractor.asp?src=features.Profile_of_Manipuri_Personalities.Irom_Sharmila.In_the_World_Largest_Democracy_a_democratic_voice_silenced_for_12_years

Monday, 29 October 2012

Fifth Article of the article series: The Oblivious Truth of Irom Sharmila and Her Hunger Strike of 12 years


As a recent move of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign (SSSC), a nationwide protest against the neglect and suppression of Irom Sharmila, is observing 12 Article series to reflect 12 years of suppression of Irom Sharmila's fast.

In this series one article per day will be published on its website and will be dedicated to one year fast of Irom. This will conclude on 5th November, the day when Irom Sharmila will be unfortunately completing her 12 years of struggle. 

Here's the fifth article:

The Oblivious Truth of Irom Sharmila and Her Hunger Strike of 12 years

By Abhijit Bhomia

“If Sharmila dies, Parliament is directly responsible,” she thundered at a gathering of journalists. “If she dies, courts and judiciary are responsible, the military is responsible… If she dies, the executive, the PM and President are responsible for doing nothing… If she dies, each one of you journalists is responsible because you did not do your duty…” these are the statements made by the Iranian nobel peace prize winner Shirin Ebadi on a trip to India in 2006 in support of Irom Sharmila Chanu.

Irom Sharmila, a poet, a social activist and a native of the ‘neglected’ state of Manipur and she is on hunger strike for 12 years now. Yes, twelve years, that is nothing in front of Anna Hazare’s fast of four days and still majority of Indians do not know about her and the cause she is fighting for. Irony, it is, that one person is getting so much media coverage and another person who is fighting for a similar cause is neglected by the government and most importantly by the media. She is fighting for the people of North East India and wants the repeal of AFSPA(Armed Forces Special Powers Act). The growing insurgency in Kashmir and North East India resulted in the inception of AFSPA. Citizens of these regions thought that now they would be safe from the militants but they did not know that atrocities by the men in uniform would follow soon. More than 20,000 people have been killed so far in Manipur alone, estimate the numbers of the whole North East.



Gandhi inspires her, and in this country of Gandhi, she is being jailed as she expresses her solidarity towards the Draconian law of AFSPA. She is not doing this for fame, but for the people of North East who are helpless and weak in front of the ruthless army. She has been fasting because this is the only weapon left with her and then she is being charged under ATTEMPT TO SUICIDE and is being jailed for a year and then police arrest her again after 2-3 days. Isn’t this what Anna Hazare is doing, and the police is not arresting him under the same charge. Double Standards.

The big Indian media houses boast about their ethics, where are those ethics when it comes to the coverage of Irom’s struggle? Do these media houses only want sky high TRPs and not highlight the news and development regarding to Irom’s hunger strike? Strong questions are left unanswered about ETHICAL media.

Leaving aside the double standards of the police and the media, let me talk about the government now. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh formed a committee in 2004 to look into the matter of AFSPA, the committee was headed by Justice Jeevan Reddy. The report by the committee has been submitted to the government but it has not made it public yet but the report is there with The Hindu and it clearly recommends the repeal of AFSPA as "the Act, for whatever reason, has become a symbol of oppression, an object of hate and an instrument of discrimination and highhandedness".

The report was submitted to the government years back but nothing has been done till now. If it has been proved that the law, instead of solving problems, has created problems then why hasn’t it been repealed? Why are they still silent? Why are the suppressing her and till when will they do? 12 years of ignoring the plea for humanity, isint that enough?

Abhijit Bhomia is a student at BITS , Pilani and Volunteer of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign. He can be reached at abhijit493@gmail.com 

Also published at http://www.countercurrents.org/bhomia291012.htm

http://e-pao.net/epSubPageExtractor.asp?src=features.Profile_of_Manipuri_Personalities.Irom_Sharmila.The_Oblivious_Truth_of_Irom_Sharmila_and_Her_Hunger_Strike_of_12_years


Sunday, 28 October 2012

Fourth Article of the Article-series : Diary entry of Irom Sharmila on the eve of 5th November

As a recent move of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign (SSSC), a nationwide protest against the neglect and suppression of Irom Sharmila, is observing 12 Article series to reflect 12 years of suppression of Irom Sharmila's fast.

In this series one article per day will be published on its website and will be dedicated to one year fast of Irom. This will conclude on 5th November, the day when Irom Sharmila will be unfortunately completing her 12 years of struggle. 

Here's the fourth article: 

Diary entry of Irom Sharmila on the eve of 5th November

By Shekhar Jain



If I were Irom Sharmila, my diary entry on the eve of 5th November would have been:



“Tomorrow it will be 12 years. I still remember my last dinner which I ate with my mother. Now, I don’t even remember how food tastes and to run for water when you are really thirsty. Seems like, I have gone past the need of these two necessary evils. But...But did I ever imagine doing this…??? Did I ever imagine my fight will be this long??? God always helped me and I always thank him for all the strength he gave me to survive. Although this nostril tube irritates me sometimes but having it for 12 years now, it has become like another organ of my body.



When I remember the day when Assam rifles had killed those innocent people, I still shudder. The face of  that 18 years kid, who won the child bravery award and could have been a future for India and that 62 old year mother…They still gives me more strength to keep my fight alive.

I always read about Mahatma Gandhi and his non violence stories. I tried to follow the same path but I never imagined that my call for non-violence and peace will be ignored by the same Government whose offices are decorated with framed photo of Mahatma Gandhi. Seems like they forgotten his values of peace and non-violence. 

They have not only ignored my voice but have also implicated me in a false case. Every year, I have to appear in the court for a false case. They have levied a charge which is not only false but also disrespects my step. I have been charged of committing “suicide”. Even the British govt knew that Mahatama Ghandhi was on a protest and was not committing suicide. I do not wish to die. I want the Government to save me and my people. For this, I am ready to sacrifice my life. It is not suicide, it is a form of protest. And I had learnt this way of protest from my nation and keeping my faith alive in my nation, I will continue this. I am fighting for humanity and I will keep on doing this. 

I never felt I was alone but sometimes. Few incidences that have come to my knowledge have been very disturbing but have given me the strength to go on. The killing of Manorama was one of them. I still feel horrified the way, i heard, she was assassinated. God knows what all happened with her before she was killed. I heard that after the incident, there was a naked parade.  I must salute all the women who did that. It takes a lot of courage in doing something like this.

I tried to take my voice directly to the centre and went to Delhi in 2006 but I was not allowed to stay there and was forcefully sent back to Manipur. I have been confined to a room in Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital for 12 years. Another thing that I do not understand is that even as a prisoner, I have not been given my rights. Unlike other prisoners, I have not been allowed visitors. Why do people have to take permission from four authorities to meet me?  I am not a terrorist. I am a reputed citizen of India who has faith in the Indian constitution. 

Recently someone told me that I am a record holder for longest fast. Ripley’s believe it or not had published my name.  Though I never wanted to set such a record but my regards to them for their recognition!

I sometimes wonder…if not about my life and my people’s life, isn’t the Government bothered about the image of our country? What will people think about the World’s largest democracy? What about the image of our diverse nation, “unity in diversity” phrase? Isn’t the Government bothered? I know that many people all across the nation support me. They write to me and tell me how whenever someone hears of my plight, they are sympathetic towards me. They are shocked. If not on the grounds on humanity and justice, the Government should think about how it is deteriorating the sense of patriotism.

I demand the repeal of AFSPA. It is something which will bring peace in the mind and heart of north- eastern people. I want myself and people in my region to have a normal and peaceful life. Is it wrong? Is it such an extravagant demand? I am only demanding peace and justice. Till when will this struggle go on…Till when will I be hungry, for peace, for justice and for non-violence? 
I just hope and pray may this new year bring a answer to few of my question.

Shekhar Jain is a recent post-graduate in electronics from Delhi University. He is a volunteer of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign. He can be reached at jainshekhar36@gmail.com 

Also published at http://www.countercurrents.org/jain281012.htm

http://e-pao.net/epSubPageExtractor.asp?src=features.Profile_of_Manipuri_Personalities.Irom_Sharmila.Diary_entry_of_Irom_Sharmila_on_the_eve_of_5th_November

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Third Article of the Article-series: LONG LIVE THE IRON LADY OF MANIPUR- IROM SHARMILA


As a recent move of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign (SSSC), a nationwide protest against the neglect and suppression of Irom Sharmila, is observing 12 Article series to reflect 12 years of suppression of Irom Sharmila's fast.

In this series one article per day will be published on its website and will be dedicated to one year fast of Irom. This will conclude on 5th November, the day when Irom Sharmila will be unfortunately completing her 12 years of struggle. 

Here's the third article. We request to kindly publish this and support our endeavor. 

LONG LIVE THE IRON LADY OF   MANIPUR- IROM SHARMILA   

By Asis Mishra 


                   
“It (non-violence) is the only thing that atomic bomb cannot destroy”- Irom Sharmila

All of us must have come across her name-Irom Sharmila, in newspapers, magazines and electronic media. Only a few of us actually know: Who is she?  why is she  doing protest in such a manner? What are the circumstances that forced her to take such a harsh step?

 Well, Imagine a situation where you see bloodshed, murder, violence on a daily basis. People in uniform (Indian Army) would visit your locality and kill innocent people. What impact would it have on your mind? How would we react to it? Most of us would react to this situation by remaining silent .Some would even stay indoors.  None of us would dare to stand against the mighty Indian Army. Under such horrible circumstances, Irom Sharmila Chanu, the  28-year-old daughter of a Grade IV veterinary worker , decided to fight against the powerful army and its draconian law – the  armed force special power act.  Even though she belongs to a poor and humble background, her continued fight against AFSPA speaks volumes of her courage and integrity.

It all started on 2 November 2000, in Malom, a town in the Imphal Valley where ten civilians were allegedly shot and killed by the Assam rifles, one of the India’s paramilitary forces, operating in the state, while waiting at a bus stop. The incident later came to be known to activists as the "Malom Massacre". The next day's local newspapers published graphic pictures of the dead bodies, including one of a 62-year old woman, Leisangbam Ibetomi, and 18-year old Sinam Chandramani, a 1988 National Child Bravery Award winner. It was this incident that made the then 28 year aged Irom  Sharmila Chanu start her indefinite fast as  a mark of protest against the atrocities done by army. Since then, she has been regularly arrested by police on charges of “attempt to suicide”.By 2004, she had become “an icon of public resistance” .In October 2,2006 , she visited Rajghat and paid floral tributes to Mahatma Gandhi. At the same time, she met and won the support of Nobel-laureate Shirin Ebidi , the Nobel Laureate and human rights activist, who promised to take up Sharmila's cause at United Nations Human Rights Council. In 2011, she invited anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare to visit Manipur, and Hazare sent two representatives to meet with her. In October 2011, she received support from Manipur Pradesh All India Trinmool congress and they urged the party chief Mamata Banerjee to support the cause of Irom .

Apart from being a political activist, she is also a poet. Her poem “"Fragrance of Peace” is quite popular among the youths of Manipur. She has also received awards  in India and abroad. She was awarded the 2007 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights, which is given to "an outstanding person or group, active in the promotion and advocacy of Peace, Democracy and Human Rights". In 2010, she won a lifetime achievement award from the Asian Human Rights Commission.

In spite of all this, the government of India has not repealed the AFSPA and had not taken any action against army jawans and officers indulging in atrocities. So a question arises: Is this acceptable? Being a citizen of India, is it not our duty to express solidarity with her? Manipur is as integral a part of India as the rest of the states are. For how long, will we tolerate the injustices done to innocent Manipuris by the devils in the army? Is it not high time to repeal AFSPA at least for a temporary period of time? Much more, the episode of Irom Sharmila also brings about serious questions about our democracy and how it operates at ground level. It is no doubt to say that it is a blot on the face of India. Well, these are the questions whose solutions are to be found out by the Government of India and the people. Merely writing articles or giving condolences won’t work, much more needs to be done.  We need to be united. We need to tell the Government that we all want it to be repealed. We all want her voice to be heard.

Asis Mishra is an engineering student from Bhubaneshwar. He is a volunteer of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign. He can be reached at asisoec@gmail.com 

Also published at http://www.countercurrents.org/mishra271012.htm

http://e-pao.net/epSubPageExtractor.asp?src=features.Profile_of_Manipuri_Personalities.Irom_Sharmila.Long_Live_The_Iron_Lady_Of_Manipur_Irom_Sharmila

Friday, 26 October 2012

Second article of the article-series: THE STATE IN WHICH THEY LIE


As a recent move of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign (SSSC), a nationwide protest to favor Irom Sharmila, is observing 12 Article series to reflect 12 years of suppression of Irom Sharmila's fast.


In this series one article per day will be published on its website and will be dedicated to one year fast of Irom. This will conclude on 5th November, the day when Irom Sharmila will be unfortunately completing her 12 years of struggle. 


Here's the second article:-


THE STATE IN WHICH THEY LIE

By Mansi Rastogi


The image that conjures in the mind of an individual when one hears 'Northeast India' would be of pristine and less explored nature,  lush  green meadows, men  and  women  in  their  tribal attires, animal horns and skin. But  what  else beyond that? With  problems like insurgency,  unemployment, drug  addiction,  and lack of infrastructure, India has failed to instill  a sense of national identity  amongst the North  eastern states in its 60 plus years of independence.

One such state is Manipur, which is a border state, though only on the political map. For Indians the mainland politico ends at Kolkata in the northeast. Most of the roads are blocked cutting the state from the rest of India, hospitals do not run, and there is a defunct administration predominated by terrorists who virtually rule the land. In such lawless conditions the education system is bound to go through a downfall with schools being shut for 15 days a month.  The  Manipuri  people  hardly  get  to  celebrate Independence  Day  or  Republic  Day-  they  are  not allowed by the insurgent groups who dictate the state's life. Only under heavy security cover can government buildings hoist the tricolour for a short while. The city shuts down after 9 P.M. Hindi films are banned and have not  been screened for  the  last fifteen  years. To fight insurgency in Manipur, the Indian government has put up the ARMED FORCES (SPECIAL POWER) ACT, which has further worsened the condition.

The AFSPA was created for the seven 'disturbed' north eastern states in 1958 to empower the armed forces officers to shoot or arrest  any  person  suspected  of  being  an  insurgent  or  on committing any offence and giving them permission to enter any building  without  a  warrant.  Moreover,  it  provides  complete exemption from prosecution of any officer for their misdeeds as it requires Central Government's permission. Let alone fighting the insurgency, this act has caused massive havoc in the state as a result of abuse of powers by Indian Army. After imposition of AFSPA, instead of reducing, the insurgent groups are mushrooming. Undoubtedly the AFSPA has failed. The AFSPA has bred  a  military  culture  of  torture,  rape,  extra-judicial  killings, mysterious disappearances and arbitrary detention. As a matter of fact AFSPA could also be a reason for insurgency which is seen more amongst the young blood to seek revenge for the atrocities caused by the Indian Army to their families and dear ones. There have been many protests to abolish the AFSPA mainly by women but neither the government nor the media has paid much heed to them.

Irom Sharmila Chanu, a 38 year old poet , is on a hunger strike since November 2000. She started her protest primarily due to arbitrary killing of 10 civilians waiting at a bus stop at Malom, Manipur. She was then arrested under the charge of attempting suicide. Since then she has been released and rearrested every year at the Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital where she is fed forcibly by the Nasogastric tube which makes it uncomfortable for her to speak properly. The wing where she has been kept is highly guarded by armed personnel and it requires permission of seven officials to visit her. Irom has  been  honored  with  awards  like  Rabindranath  Tagore Peace Prize and Gwangju prize for Human Rights by South Korea. She has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize twice in the years 2005 and 2010 but it all seems to be in vain when her own country refuses to even attend to her demands, let alone agree.

It's unfortunate that largest democratic country hasn't recognised the peaceful protest of its people. People of Manipur want development at par with mainland India. It's high time the government puts away the permanent state of emergency from the northeastern states and grants them the right to live. How many of us would sacrifice their lives  like  Irom,  who  hasn't seen her mother for 11years, for  whom  the  world  is  a shabby  room  of  a  hospital, colours of life are just white and black cuttings of newspapers,  and  rifles  and AK-47s  have  become  her constant companions? While the  'Iron  lady'  battles  every second of life for the people of  Manipur,  media  is  busy covering  bollywood's  glitz and  glamour.  One  can  only hope that the face-off between  the  military  rule, State  government  and  the rebel groups would  come to an  end,  granting  the  much elusive freedom for the aam aadmi to truly relish.

Mansi Rastogi is an engineer by profession but would also like to do her “bid” for the society. She has worked with boond, a social enterprise. She can be reached at mansi.hg@gmail.com

Also published at http://www.countercurrents.org/rastogi261012.htm

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