Friday, 8 November 2013

Sensitivities Killed Nationality Fragmented

by Prof. V P Srivastava

After the bus gang-rape of Delhi, questions are raised: when crime is being committed, why do the people look the other way? People’s sensitivity is questioned.  Massacre of eleven innocent people in Manipur, unquestioned by the government shook the conscience of a young lady, who goes on a self-sacrificing, non-violent fast against the law that justifies this brutality. What is expected of a person with a conscience? ....Probably , we need to learn to kill our conscience to be a law-abiding citizen! The Indian state is forcing with guns generations after generations in Manipur to learn to kill any sensitivity any humanity within.

Supreme Court responding to Hegde’s committee’s report on fake encounters in Manipur observed,‘ This is not the best way to integrate(north-east) people. It is the best way to alienate them.’ I wonder how many years it takes the BEST WAY to achieve its objective of ALIENATION completely. Has not the BEST WAY already achieve its objective in more than half century of persecution?

Irom Sharmila, the rarest of the rare species of human being that she belongs, possesses empathy for every human being and the Himalayan courage to take upon a life-time struggle to undo the wrong. In her poems, ‘to spread the fragrance of peace for future generations, she wishes her mortal remains to turn into ores of mines’---a living Gold Mine of Highest Human Values being herself! Full of humility, in another poem, she seeks support, ‘My hands be given to you, Greet me Please’. I cannot forgive myself for her personal suffering, and the state-caused miseries around, being a beneficiary of the system. We have looked upon mythological (not historical) Bheeshma among the tallest for taking the most difficult pledge (not to marry for peace in the royal family). And Lo! Here, there is a real human being in flesh and blood transcending basic human needs and senses of taste for the cause of Peace and Justice.

I can recall only one occasion in my last fifty years of adult life before, when I rushed to have a glimpse of a mortal being. It was to see Mother Teressa. On March 4, 2013, I had taken the side-gate to enter Patiala House Court in Delhi, to avoid police barriers. And I was there to hear her words ‘love for life’ and court’s words ‘respect you’ for the accused and its helplessness that,’....AFSPA is a political decision’. Not satisfied with only few minutes in the court corridor, I accompanied Delhi University students to Manipur House. After waiting for 2-3 hours for her feeding and the required rest, I was lucky to listen to her half an hour interaction with the youth at the outside of the building within the premises of Manipur House.

Many of Delhi University students were known to me, having met them on Nov. 6, 2012 Solidarity fast at Rajghat. I was particularly pained to find almost all students belonging to Manipur only. But I had myself come to know about her visit only through the morning newspaper that day. During the waiting hours, on the road-side meeting at Manipur House, the deep-rooted feeling of being discriminated and the anger against draconian AFSPA dominated the discussion. It was important to share with them the exploiting character of the state, and helplessness of the poor, even in non-border states from Kalingnagar in Orissa in the East to curfew conditions at Jaitapur in Maharashtra in the West; people’s struggle for their water-rights in Uttarakhand to fishermen’s struggle at Kundankulam in South; and the unlawful long detentions of the tribals in Central India irrespective of race, religion or region. (It was satisfying to read an appeal recently to the judiciary by eminent citizens led by Justice V.R.Krishna Iyer  to look into the unlawful detention of the people in Central India. It was unfortunately to be soon followed by the news of killing of political leaders in Chattisgarh.)

Describing conditions in Manipur, Sharmila writes in her letter to Harvard University seminar ,"One side (the state )is adamant to rout the struggle of independence with Weapon of Violence while the other side firmly believes to win independence with it but, in the never-ending fight between the two sides, land’s potency for development, wealth and time is unnecessarily wasted making the land poorer.......making populace depend on other’s help." Further she laments "There is no one (government or the law) to  listen to complaints of women whose husbands and children have met a premature end to their lives and whose honour have been ravaged. amidst their heartfelt cries, in the light thrown by the flames of funeral pyres, outsiders project manipur as a place akin to hell." The concerns of the common man, so vividly described is of no concern to the politician’s selfish agenda revealed by massive corruption all around. Nevertheless, the politicians are successful in pitching the common man against others in the name of caste, creed, race or religion unmindful of the fragmentation of the society caused. The state government of Manipur, of the people of Manipur is little bothered to do away the Disturbed Area Act to put pressure on the Centre to repeal AFSPA. Both the governments know how to rule with divisive politics and ‘easy purchase of their (people’s) voting rights’.

Shall we look at the greatness of the common people with greater respect! Meira Paibi and Naga Mothers were given the highest Social Impact Award by Times of India this year for their work on anti-alcoholism and peace. Not only awards, their work (similar works elsewhere too) need be replicated at all-India level if the people’s welfare is to be the objective. Shall we not hope and work for a shift in political power (and policies) in the hands of such people’s groups, to the legacy of which Sharmila belongs! Gandhiji in a speech says, "Indeed, the test of orderliness in a country is not the number of millionaires it owns, but the absence of starvation among its masses.”

There cannot be greater evidence of helplessness and suffocation of judiciary than the Supreme Court making observation on Manipur conditions saying,” We can’t tell how sorrowful we are. What is the use of our sitting here?” Then look Justice Varma’s Committee, while making suggestions to strengthen anti-rape laws used the opportunity to recommend not to allow the immunity of AFSPA for rape. The recommendations of Justice Jeewan Reddy for repealing AFSPA is not being honoured. Justice Hegde’s committee exposes government’s crime on the people in Demo(n)cratic way! This brings us to the clear conclusion that in a democratic society if the state imposes such emeregency laws (like AFSPA)in any part of the country, beyond a stipulated period( six months or one year) then it automatically qualifies for judicial monitoring of law and order on six-monthly basis for its continuance, not to make a mockery of democracy.

The captivity of Sharmila for more than twelve years on charges of ‘attempt to suicide’ is another mockery of law. Her’s is a penance of the highest kind for peace and justice. In twelve years, there are twelve hundred ways of committing ‘suicide’, if that was at all the objective. Only a hypocrite would accuse her guilty of the crime. When attempted or suspected starvation could be averted by a mandatory visit to a government doctor every day, why she is deprived of civil liberties to the extent of not even allowed to meet the family?? Politicians can be very small people, not worthy of recognising the Greatness of Sharmila, but not the Highest Judiciary?

Manipur House displays posters of Olympians proclaiming them, ‘Pride of Manipur’. That day, in the energetic  and enthusiastic discussion of those promising students with Sharmila, all I could add, ‘Sharmila, you are Pride of India, an Inspiration to Youth.’ To me a pilgrimage to Manipur remains my cherished agenda.  

Prof. V P Srivastava taught in the Department of Mathematics at Delhi University. He can be reached at 

1 comment:

  1. She is bravest of the bravest woman . Why has the government still silent??