Posted: October 30, 2011 in News, The NamoLeague Times
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Where is Manipur in India?

Eeerr.. North..

Ok. Which are the seven sister states of India?

Eh, I guess Assam, Manipur.. Well, don’t remember them all.

Have you heard of Irom Sharmila?

Aaah, naah.. Who’s she, oops or is it he?!

Fine, leave it. Heard of Anna Hazare?

Oh, obviously. He fasted for 3 long days for India, how would I not know him?

Wow, kudos. Arey, I guess you even participated in that candle light march for him, right?

That’s thrilling! Thrilling se yaad aaya, Japan was hit hard yaar..

Oh yeah. You know man, more than 15000 people died. And the nuclear blast at Fukushima, people had to face the fear of contamination of even food and drinks.

Hmm, all these are the in things, adds a touch of glamour if you even talk about them. But ever thought about the contamination of the mindsets of the people?

“Ever heard of a lady who is on fast
for a cause since last ten years?”

Do you know, that cause is to fight against the armed forces, the section of the society that we consider the most revered? It’s about a draconian act where any damn person is brutally tortured, murdered or raped, without any particular reason. It’s about Irom Sharmila, a hero in true sense. Let’s recognize her before it’s too late. I know, this is neither glamorous nor the talked about issue, but it’s the voice of our conscience. She is posing a question that lays unanswered. We have to revert.


Manipur is one of the Indian states, of the ‘seven sisters’ province of Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland. These are among the most neglected and underdeveloped parts of India. Manipur is 22% behind the national average for infrastructural development, and the entire north-eastern region is 30% behind the rest of India. Also, its main languages, which belong to the Tibeto-Chinese family, were not recognized as Indian languages until the recent Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
Manipur was granted autonomy when the British left in 1947, but was merged with India two years later in a treaty that many of its 2.3 million-strong population believe was forced upon their king. This led to freedom movements, further leading to the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1980 – the Indian Government’s attempt to regain control.

The biggest irony of this act that was established to control the situation is that the North-East was the most peaceful area until it came within the purview of this act.


“Nothing is impossible or unreachable

In that place where truth is lucid and pure

No excuse exists for untruth

Human wrongs are punished

Not excused or ignored”

– Irom Sharmila Chanu
Irom Sharmila Chanu – a poet, a writer and an activist, was born in the state of Manipur on March 14, 1972. She is the best example of a living Gandhian, who staunchly follows a hunger strike that she resolved to on November 4, 2000. She is fighting against the Government of India to repeal the act known as AFSPA, Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, from the state of Manipur and other areas of the North-East.

• Sharmila has not taken a single morsel of food or a single drop of water since ten long years.
• To make sure that even a drop of water does not break her oath, she uses dry cotton to clean her teeth and dry spirit for her lips.

• Her body has wasted inside and her menstrual cycles have stopped.

• Sharmila has vowed not to meet or even see her mother until her wish is fulfilled.

• She has given up footwear.

• She has decided to leave her hair unoiled and uncombed until the act is repealed.


Place: Malom Village, near Imphal.

It was a dark, cold evening. The shiver and the darkness was also seen in people’s minds and hearts. Some called out for a separate state, others for autonomy while some extreme groups demanded nothing but complete independence. There was tremendous outrage and one of the insurgent groups gave a form to this rage. They attacked the paramilitary base that night, adding fuel to the armed forces’ fire.

The dark, cold evening moved on to be a numbed and cold-blooded morning. As a routine, ten people, common people, like you and me, were waiting at the Malom bus stop. The Assam Rifles of the paramilitaries pulled up and opened fire. The ten lay there, becoming the victims of an offense they had not committed, or probably didn’t even know about. No evidence, no time to think, no opportunity to react. It was a bloodthirsty revenge for the previous night’s attack.
This was not new for the region where such encounters, murders and rapes was a regular affair. The people lived constantly under the shadow of the gun. The killings would have remained just another photographs in the next day’s local newspaper, if Irom Sharmila had not decided to protest. The happening triggered her conscience and she was unnerved. She ate a meal that her mother had prepared, took her blessings and has not eaten ever since.

The turmoil was named the ‘Malom Massacre’, hardly known and rarely told!


On the third day of Sharmila’s fast, she was jailed by the police and charged with an “attempt to commit suicide.” However, such a charge allows detention in jail for just 364 days. As a result, she has never been brought to trial and is annually released and rearrested. Also, with her determination of not to take food or water, she is force-fed through a plastic tube. The tube was inserted into her nose and a liquid nutrient was inserted into her body. She has been surviving on this liquid diet and in solitary confinement as a high security prisoner for the last ten years.

• Sharmila is not even permitted to exercise or walk outside in the daylight, a right routinely granted to those convicted of the most serious crimes.

• To meet her, one needs the permission of the Chief Minister and four other senior administrative, police and jail officials of the state.
In times when violence is on the rise and we are increasingly progressing in a more aggressive world, the silent, peaceful protest of Sharmila is something that has not caught the eyes, hearts and minds of the people. For all her valiant struggle, the sad truth is that it has not really moved the Indian Government or the security forces to change their stand on the repeal of the AFSPA. The situation is still the same, but you can add a ray of hope. Spread the awareness, support Sharmila in her cause. Let us shed away the indifference.

The struggle of Sharmila does not just defend the human rights in Manipur, but it is reshaping the very foundations of democracy in India.

Read original article at: http://epaper.namoleague.com/EpaperArticle.aspx?title=Where%20The%20Protectors%20Are%20The%20Destroyers!_596

  1. Desi Coutinho says:

    Thank you for passing the information on. Two corrections if you will consider them. First there are many long term health problems that have been attributed falsely to Sharmila. It depends on whom you choose to believe. She has always maintained to me that her health remains very good which she attributes to the grace of God and her very basic yogasanas which she practices daily. There have been four reports of a massive health deterioration I can give references if you want desiecoutinho@yahoo.co.uk in various Indian papers the last being the People Magazine Delhi September 2011 all are untrue. Mr Bertil Linter who is more an expert on Daw Aung Sang Suu Kyi believes it is just part of the elaborate myth making that goes about what is essentially a very ordinary person who is living an extraordinary life. Second on the illegal terms of her detention, the chief judicial magistrate of Imphal East who has always treated her with as much decency and humanity as the law allows has advised her to challenge the blanket ban imposed by the Manipur Home Secretariat which he believes is supra vires its own powers and unconstitutional. He is confident that High Court and if necessary Supreme Court action will succeed. Unfortunately we have been unsuccessful in our attempts to hire a lawyer. Longer term this may still succeed. Beyond that the elections in 2012 offer an opportunity for Manipuris to provide concrete support for Sharmila and if as is argued the majority want AF(SP)A removed from Manipur then they could do it by denotifying the Disturbed Areas Status from the whole of Manipur. All that would be necessary is for MLAs in each of the 60 constituencies to pledge that they would do so and AF(SP)A is effectively driven from the land. The people should be given a choice they need only 31 MLAs to agree to the pledge and Sharmila would be free the satyagraha victorious. It would also grant Delhi the democratic mandate it needs to take on the Indian Army.

    • aditirindani says:

      Thank you so much for writing in. I surely have considered your corrections. I feel the main problem with this case is that wrong information is being passed on and people are not aware about the real scenario. Its unfortunate that people like me also have to go by hear-say. I am thankful to you that you shared your experiences and views. I have not witnessed the situation, its just the knowledge that I get through different mediums, that I have compiled here. We need to get together and yes, the best news is that there is hope for Sharmila to be victorious.

  2. Desi Coutinho says:

    This is the long dark starless night of our yelda if we stay true to the darkness then the dayspring will come. They used to call me the international super sex spy agent but now I have been downgraded to mentally imbalanced writer I feel I should make more effort. I wanted to tell her brother that there is a way to be good again, that he should stand as an MLA in their local constituency on a denotifying Disturbed Area Status. But they will do what they will do. As she puts it we must trust in God all things will work our according to our karma. I have tried to explain that’s what worries me my karma is not as good as hers. I am more reformed idjit. But anyway thanks for allowing the comment to stand. Today the Calcutta Telegraph gave a public apology from their regional manager to a group of Manipuris who had burnt and then banned their newspaper for carrying the actual words of Sharmila. Even though bloggers are in no danger of having their words burnt they don’t always wish to publish. She is an amazing woman, a mahatma, a wisdom dakini and also really down to earth and I am sure she will frequently show annoyance at my many faults. I don’t think my writing for her or about her helps but I know she likes receiving mail still. Irom Sharmila Chanu, Security Ward, Jawaharlal Nehru I M S, Porompat, Imphal East, Manipur 795001. Long dark starless vigil nights of yelda may sound very romantic but you must know how it is. I have decided we shall keep a Tibetan Mastiff Muni as a house pet. They make good guard dogs, and if I treat it as a house pet he’d be good company too, won’t be much use if it comes to it, but I’d rather we weren’t completely alone in the peace ashram in Manipur when the dawn has finally yeah I know I’m a little camp, it’s a foible. You’d be welcome but I wouldn’t force Manipur on anyone who didn’t have to be there. And of course she is more than worth it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s