Wednesday, December 02, 2009

IIPM :: News - AFSPA terror - A Woman versus a State

Her fight for a cause has taken a toll on her frail frame but her spirit is unbreakable

Shakhi Devi

Irom Chanu Sharmila’s mother who has stood by her all along

Irom Chanu Sharmila is my youngest daughter, and she takes up such a big issue and fights the world. She began her fast nine years ago, on November 2, 2000, after Assam Rifles forces killed 10 young men, all of whom were civilians, following a bombing of their convoy by militants. She refused to end the fast even after being arrested, being force-fed through her nose all these years, and being kept away from the people she loves. She refused to compromise even when the Prime Minister offered a set of cosmetic changes to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) 1958.

We, mother and daughter, have an understanding: we do not see each other because if she sees me, Chanu may cry and it may weaken her mind. I support her despite the pain and suffering she goes through, because it is for a cause, as the AFSPA has resulted in a reign of terror. It is because of atrocities by security forces that many of our women staged a protest in the nude in front of the Assam Rifles headquarters in July 2004 holding up a banner asking the Indian Army to rape them. According to Justice Jeevan Reddy Commission, the AFSPA “has become a symbol of oppression, an object of hate and an instrument of discrimination and high-handedness”. Nothing, of course, has helped change things.

There is now an iron curtain around Chanu and Manipur, with the state not being able to face up to her struggle. The government sent her back from Delhi in 2006 as she had become an embarrassment after Iranian Nobel laureate Shirin Ibadi declared her support for Chanu’s struggle and what she stands for. Lately, the government of Manipur has done everything to keep people away from her. as people from across the country, along with many from around the world, began to talk about the atrocities by security forces in the name of fighting insurgency in the North-east, especially Manipur.

At least 200,000 people have died and suffered in the shadow of the Act in Manipur since it was imposed 50 years ago. The atrocities continue, with the government looking away, making false promises and doing its best to hush up cases. Every election, our political leaders come promising to fight the Act; once the elections are over, all is forgotten. The recent killing of former militant Chongkham Sanjit in cold blood only shows what security forces here do routinely. In the past, there have been cases such as the rape and murder by the Assam Rifles of Thangjam Manorama in 2004. In the 1980s, there was Operation Bluebird in Oinam in the Ukhrul district of Manipur, again by the Assam Rifles. Operation Bluebird has gone down as one of the worst cases of human rights violations by security forces in not just the country but the world. The victims of the operation have received nothing but harassment at the hands of the government. Noted writer Mahasweta Devi, who was here recently, wasn’t allowed to go near Chanu. But do not take Chanu lightly—she is steely in her determination. I support her. She must win.
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Source :
IIPM Editorial, 2009

An IIPM and Professor Arindam Chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist) Initiative

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