Veeyang Yirang, Trainee Reporter, MassCoMedia
Manipur – the land of jewels is famous for bestowing the nation world class sports persons, the most prominent being Mary Kom - the 5 time world women boxing champion but sadly, it is also a place known for the naked demonstration staged by a group of women against the Army brutalities in front of the Kangla Fort in 2004 as well as the epic hunger strike that still continues even after 11 years by a frail soul Sharmila against the draconian Act - Armed Forces Special Power Act which has marked its 50 years of reprehensible presence in this small state.
50 years of AFSPA in Manipur also marks the 50 years of Armed forces brutality and gross human right violence in this sports state of North East. Reportedly, the act which also empowers the Army to shoot at suspicions has led to many fake encounters in the hills of Manipur. Fearing fake encounters many Manipuri’s have migrated to other states in small groups and the youths are sent out of the state by their parents to study or to work. The land is no more of the Manipuri’s but it has become the playground for the Indian Army and their brutalities.
In fact, the imposing of AFSPA has not stabilized the state so far but it has only added to the suffering of poor villagers who are victimized by the Army in the name of interrogation, leading to human right violation. Presumably, it is the only Indian state where highest numbers of Military and Pare Military battalion are posted that has only enhanced the fear and insecurity of the locals due to its rampant records of human rights violations. Stepping in those villages, one can witness the scar marks on most of the villagers left by the Army. The story of rape and brutality is inscribed at the door steps of every village and every family has some agonies to share meted out by the armed forces.
The AFSPA provides special power to arrest, detain and kill civilians on mere suspicion. The Act also empowers the armed forces to search and destroy properties on mere suspicion in "disturbed areas". But wherever AFSPA is in operation, enforced disappearance, extra judicial executions, torture, rape and arbitrary detention comes to rise.
In 1958 when the Union Home Minister introduced the law in the parliament, he assured that the Act would be in operation for a mere 6 months. 52 years since then, it is still in operation in Manipur, increasing violence in a peace loving state. It is just hard to believe that some armed insurgent groups operate with the support of the state and central security agencies.
The people of manipur has done everything humanely conceivable to register their protest against the AFSPA -- naked protest by mothers, self immolation by student leaders, mass demonstration, petition to the Supreme Court, complaints to the United Nation are to name a few. The civil society groups including the media, political parties, jurists, expert groups appointed by the government and the United Nations have constantly called upon the government to withdraw AFSPA from Manipur and has held that the withdrawal of AFSPA is essential to end the culture of violence in Manipur. However, the government has failed to give any heed to these considered opinions.
50 years of brutal oppression of the Armed forces, 50 years of suffering of the innocent souls and 50 years of gross human rights violations on the state of Manipur is enough to divulge the veracity of the draconian Act, AFSA. The verity is that the draconian Act has not been able to suppress the struggle of the many insurgent groups spread across the hills of Manipur but it has only added more miseries in the life of common man and most significantly, inscribed gross human rights violation in the history of the state.
Manipur known for its beauty, dance, culture and sports is losing its grace and essence because of the cruelty meted out by AFSA. Record says, peace has been absconding since the baton was handed over to AFSA. Solidifying the fact, with iron fist, peace will never prevail or be gained. The history has it; violence has accomplished nothing except devastation, humiliation, frustration, poverty and suffering for humankind. To safeguard those virtues of humanity AFSA has to go from the hills of Manipur or else humanity will die agonizingly, each second, everyday, silently.