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:-


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

Also published at

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