Manipur the state which is ranked 20th of all the Indian states with respect to it’s geographical size literally means “A Jeweled Land”. The state of Manipur is located amidst the states of Nagaland, Mizoram & Assam. Manipur is bestowed with Mother Nature’s best exceptional beauty. Lush green hilly terrain, waterfalls, lakes, rivers, alluring species of flowers and canopies of emerald green trees!!!!
Absolute heaven on earth!
The people of Manipur are equally beautiful; in fact they define beauty at it’s best. People say where nature resides with all her wealth, peace comes naturally. They also say if you are in search of peace seek solace in the arms of nature! But Manipur in spite of being Mother Nature’s favourite destination has a different story to tell…….
Besides the serenity of nature, Manipur is burning with violence for decades. The freedom of the Manipuris is caged in for years. Killings, kidnappings, extortions, physical and mental torture forms a part of their daily schedule. They live and die at the behest of the militant as well security forces. WHY?
How many of us know that Manipur was a sovereign country until 15 October 1947?
How many of us know that Manipur had it’s own constitution?
I guess none….
When British left in 1947, Maharaja Bodhchandra declared Manipur a sovereign country on 28 august 1947. In June 1948 elections were held under the Manipur Constitution Act 1947. Subsequently a council of ministers was formed at the first session of assembly on 18 October 1948 . But the tables were going to turn around & the Manipuris didn’t even had it’s remote intuition.
The Governor of Assam invited Maharaja Bodhchandra to Shillong. The motto; to merge Manipur with India. Maharaja was reluctant He pleaded that he had no authority to sign such a document; and he will convey his final verdict after consulting with his council of ministers. But his request was denied. The Governor of Assam subdued the Maharaja and compelled him to sign the so – called merger agreement. And that’s how Manipur was subjugated and that’s how the Manipuris became our brothers and sisters.
In the words of Khaidem Mani, a senior lawyer and chronicler of Manipur’s history,
“He (Mharaja) succumbed to the unbearable pressure and signed the so called ‘merger agreement’ on 21 September 1949, and Manipur became a part of India from October 15 that year. This grave injustice, the way our Maharaja was insulted and forced to sign on the dotted line, and the virtual annexation of Manipur by India, is what ultimately led to the birth of insurgency in 1964. We haven’t forgotten the way we were humiliated and haven’t forgiven India for what it did in 1949”
The predicament of Manipur worsened after the inception of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act – AFSPA. Let us take a glance at AFSPA:
- After giving such due warning, Fire upon or use other kinds of force even if it causes death, against the person who is acting against law or order in the disturbed area for the maintenance of public sector.
- To arrest anyone without a warrant who has committed cognizable offences.
And there are many such more unjust aspects of AFSPA.
AFSPA was pronounced by the British on 15 August 1942 to crush the Quit India Movement. After Independence our Indian government enforced AFSPA to tackle the internal unrest aroused after the Partition. The objective behind the implementation of AFSPA was to control the unrest but results contradict the objective.
Of the many incidents which are prove evident to the misery of Manipur one took place in Malom .10 civilians were gunned down on 2 November 2000. Their crime: waiting at the bustop. Among the victims there was a 62 yr old woman Leisangbam Ibetombi & 18 yr old Sinam Chandramani , a 1988 National Child Bravery Award winner!
This massacre shook young Irom Sharmila so extensively that she resolute on practicing a fast in protest of the massacre. Right at the age of 28! No food No water. She is surviving only on her willingness to bring justice to all those innocent people and the most surprising or disheartening thing is she is doing it from past 14 years! Her willpower is her only means and purpose of life .the government tried to repress her protest .She was arrested by the police on the grounds of “attempt to suicide” which is crime under Indian law. Her health was ramshackle; in order to keep her alive she was forced to nasogasric intubation. But Sharmila didn’t back down. She stated that the motto of her fast is to protest against the killings .It’s against the injustice is pulling through decades. And the only reason for the inhuman life of Manipur is AFSPA.
The government is devoid of the willingness to repeal AFSPA .Not a single measure or assurance .But Irom Sharmila is dauntless. She is released and re-arrested every year. Under IPC 309 the law states that the person who attempts to suicide shall be punished with a simple imprisonment for a term which may be extended to one year.
The law is for humans but Sharmila is for humans as well as humanity .In the blind eyes of law she is a criminal ; an outlaw !
So does it imply that all the paramilitary & militant forces who are on the rampage innocent? India is most largest democracy of the world and what a wonder we redefined it !
The most disappointing part is on August 22 2014 she was re-arrested again. Her crime – attempt to suicide (inwardly fight for justice) whereas on 19 August 2017 the court in Imphal concluded that the prosecution had failed to prove Sharmila guilty of attempt to suicide through fasting.
Such is perplexity of Indian law and society .Where laws are made for the good but utilized for the bad. Where wrong doers are pampered and fighters like Irom Sharmila get nothing but tears. And the passer’s by turn a blind eye. Our country is perfect state of paradox .On one hand we talk about Mangalyan and on the other we are unable to strike up with the internal threats like naxalites and other militant groups. Gandhiji is revered all over the world for his practice of Ahimsa but all those who tried to imbibe the same practices in his own country after Independence received nothing. Freedom was supposed to open our eyes but we became blind…..and for such people there are torches of humanity like Irom Sharmila………..
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