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Irom Chanu Sharmila: The Iron lady of Manipur

Irom Chanu Sharmila is fasting since 16 years against AFSPA

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Irom Chanu Sharmila, Wikimedia Commons

By Pashchiema Bhatia

When Anna Hazare began his hunger strike, he became the centre of media attention and everybody was concerned about his life. He stimulated the whole nation to support his cause. A 42 year old lady of Manipur who is fasting since 2 November, 2000, is demanding to withdraw the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). Irom Sharmila, the Iron lady of Manipur, who has not drunk a single drop of water since November, 2000, never got the media coverage to this extent. Is she not a human? Then why nobody is concerned about her life? May be because she belongs to north-east, the part of India about which nobody is concerned.

AFSPA, 1958

Under this act, all the army men are provided with unrestrained powers to arrest or to shoot or to kill anyone just on the basis of mere suspicion that the person is acting against the state or might be linked to some terrorists groups. This act is applicable to the seven sister states of north-east (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura) which has suffered insurgency, tribal-warfare including terrorism. A similar act is imposed in Jammu and Kashmir.

I respect the army men and I am obliged that they suffer for the purpose of our security. Officers deployed in Siachen suffer a lot but still they work.  But giving unrestrained powers to them is problematic.

Irom Chanu Shramila grew up in Manipur. She is a civil rights as well as political activist. She began a hunger strike on November, 2000, after the Malom Massacre, when 10 civilian were shot allegedly by the Assam Rifles, one of the Indian Paramilitary forces operating in the state.  Later the encounters were alleged to be fake and Manipur High Court ordered 5 lakhs compensation for each of the families of the 10 people who were killed. Irom said, “I was shocked to see the dead bodies. There was no means to stop further violations by the armed forces. Fast is the most effective way because it is based on a spiritual fight. My fast is on behalf of the people of Manipur. This is not a personal battle, it is symbolic. It is a symbol of truth, love and peace”. Irom has been forcibly kept alive by nasogastric tubation. She had been arrested several times on the charges of ‘attempt to suicide’ but since the maximum sentence cannot exceed one year she is released by the court after the completion of one year and is re-arrested on the same charges within 2-3 days of her release. Police justifies this by saying that they are concerned about her and they cannot see her die but arresting and re-arresting has been the only concern of the authorities.

On July 2004, Thangjam Manorama, a Manipuri woman was picked up from her home by Indian paramilitary unit on some uncertain allegations of being associated with People’s Liberation Army. Next day, her dead body was found and the post-mortem report revealed that she was raped. After the Nirbhaya case, the whole nation was criticising the culprits but the brutal rape case of Thangjam Manorama came to light only after the protests of Manipuri women standing naked in front of Assam Rifles Headquarters with banners proclaiming, ‘Come Indian Army, Rape Us’. Watch this video: @youtube video on protests in Manipur

When AFSPA was imposed, it was supposed to be a temporary law but now it’s been 60 years, it still persists. The aim of AFSPA was to bring normalcy but now it appears that AFSPA has changed the definition of normalcy. There are several cases of mysterious disappearances of people, fake encounters and rapes which are reported. I believe that if we want to know the relevance of an act we must inquire into the improvements which it has brought in. When AFSPA was imposed there were two insurgent groups and now there are at least 40 insurgent groups. Instead of being a solution it has probably encouraged more people to take up arms. The army won’t oppose it as it provides unrestrained powers to them and thinking about the State government, AFSPA attracts funds from the Centre. It’s an escape route for the Centre to hide administrative failures in these areas.

I agree that some relevant police force must be there to tackle the insurgency but there should be some control over the uncontrolled powers given to the army. The government must ensure that no one is misusing the powers. Either a new act should replace AFSPA and come into being or it should be revoked because it is violating the human rights.

In the era of rising intolerance, it is Irom Sharmila who still has faith in peace and democracy. She says that she wants to eat rice from her mother’s hand after the withdrawal of AFSPA. She is a living legend of non-violence and history will remember her.

Pashchiema is an intern at NewsGram and a student of journalism and mass communication in New Delhi. Twitter: @pashchiema5

3 COMMENTS

  1. This is really sad, I never knew this side of AFSPA. Government should take action against it.

    • Hardly anyone knows.. Acc to a survey, more than 80% of the north-easterns face some sort of discrimination in Metropolitan cities.. They are beaten up and humiliated. When Indian students were facing discrimination in Australia then all Indians were criticising but when Indians are beaten up in India then our Indian media is busy in covering bollywood stuff..

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7 Beautiful Places To Visit In North East India

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Places to visit in North East India.
Places to visit in North East India. Pixabay

North Eastern India, the home to the ‘Seven Sisters’ is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful regions, yet the most unexplored part of the country. From Shillong’s rainfall to Assam’s beautiful tea gardens, the region is indeed the home to exotic beauty. However, the tourism of the region has gained pace in the recent years. The picturesque views of the streams, hills and farms are breathtaking.

Here is the list of 7 beautiful places to visit in North East India:

1. Kaziranga National Park

places to visit in North East India
Kaziranga National Park. Pixabay.

Kaziranga national park in Assam is famous for its one-horned rhinoceros. It is the most famous tourist spot & one of the beautiful places to visit in North East India. The place has been declared a UNESCO heritage site and attracts a lot of tourists from all over the world. Hundreds of migratory birds and around 35 species of mammals fly down every season to the national park. The incredible fauna cannot be found anywhere else in India.

2. Nathula Pass

Places to visit in North East India.
Nathula Pass. Wikimedia.

A trek on the Nathula Pass in Sikkim will give you a memory completely irreplaceable. The beautiful scenic views which you will observe through your trek journey can be found nowhere else in India & makes if one of the beautiful places to visit in North East India. A vacation to this place with your family during the summers is a must. Also the fact that a bearable temperature in the summer season will let you enjoy your trek more. A trek in the Nathula pass should right away be added to your bucket list.

3. Cherrapunji

Places to visit in North East India.
Cherrapunji. Wikimedia.

Cherrapunji in Meghalaya is the world’s wettest place. The place is known for receiving the maximum rainfall in the world. And, the weather of the place adds to its beauty. It is definitely one of the beautiful places to visit in North East India.

Also Read: 5 Inspiring Travel Stories That Will Give You Serious Wanderlust

4. Phodong Monastery

Places to visit in North East India.
Phodong Monastery. Wikimedia.

According to reports, the Phodong monastery in Sikkim is built in the 18th century. It situated 28 kms from Gangtok. It is known to be one of the most religious places for a sect of Buddhists. The place is a residence to around 260 monks. The place is full of positive energy. The people around the monastery are amicable and have some interesting stories in their pockets to tell you. The architecture of the monastery depicts a unique culture and beauty. These characteristics make this monastery, one of the beutiful places to visit in North East India. So grab your tickets soon!

5. Dampa Tiger Reserve

places to visit in North East India
A bird in the Dampa Tiger Reserve. Wikimedia.

Dampa Tiger Reserve in Mizoram is the largest wildlife sanctuary in Mizoram & a must visit place in north east india. The Tiger Reserve is a home to leopards, barking deer, sloth bear, langurs, Indian Python and a variety of birds. The fauna and flora of the place will leave you stunned.

6. Majuli Islands

Places to visit in North East India.
Majuli Island. Wikimedia.

A river island situated along the Brahmaputra is a home to many tribes. A variety of birds can be found on the island. The size of the island has been reduced due to river erosion by the Brahmaputra.

7. Shilloi lake

Places to visit in North East India.
Shilloi Lake. Wikimedia.

Shilloi lake, the largest natural lake in Nagaland situated in the state’s Phek district is covered by picturesque views including beautiful mountain peaks and trees. The best time to visit this lake is in the summer season. The beauty of the lake makes it one of the most beautiful places to visit in North East India.

-by Megha Acharya of NewsGram.

 Twitter: @ImMeghaacharya. 

 

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Racial Discrimination Faced by North Easterners shows the Dark Side of Modern Society

India prides itself on its so called diversity but these are just plain talks. The real situation on the ground is terrible for all Northeasterners, especially womenfolk. People from Northeast are racially abused by mainland Indians as "chinkis" This derogatory term means an individual with slanted eyes.

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A group of Manipuri girls in Imphal. wikimedia

– by Gaurav Tyagi

  • The author spent several years in Delhi and sadly witnessed numerous unfortunate incidents in Delhi involving shoddy treatment of Northeast women and girls especially by Jats of urban villages like Katwaria Sarai, Ber Sarai and Munirka.

Northeastern states of India comprises of Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim & Mizoram. This region is also referred to as the Seven Sisters. The physical characteristics of the inhabitants of these states are different than the Indian people. Due to which they face racial discrimination in other parts of the country.

Northeasterners have oriental looks and are hard-working, friendly people. Matriarchy is practised among many groups in the Northeast. Successive Indian governments neglected this whole region, as a result it has stayed backwards in terms of infrastructure.

Controversial AFSPA

Tourists need special permits from the government authorities to visit many regions of Northeast India. In 1958, the Indian government passed a law, the Armed Forces Special Act (AFSPA) that applies to various seven Northeastern states. This grants security forces the power to search properties without a warrant, to arrest people and to use deadly force if there is “reasonable suspicion” that a person is acting against the state.

Army officers have legal immunity for their actions as per AFSPA; there can be no prosecution, suit or any other legal proceeding against anyone acting under this law. Indian army frequently misuses its power by harassing the residents of Northeast region under the pretext of this draconian law.

Social Exclusion of the Seven Sisters

An activist from Manipur, Irom Chanu Sharmila holds the world record as the longest hunger striker”. Sharmila grew up in Manipur, one of the Seven Sister States in India’s northeast, which has suffered from continuous neglect by the Indian government for decades.

Sharmila’s primary demand to the Indian government has been the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA).

She started her fast in Malom on 5 November 2000 and vowed not to eat, drink, comb her hair or look in a mirror until AFSPA was repealed. She ended her hunger strike on 9 August 2016 after 16 years of fasting. Sadly, AFSPA is still in force. Ordinary people of Northeast India are tormented by Delhi through its army.

No major industry exists in this region, therefore, the employment prospects for the locals are practically non-existent. Basic infrastructure like roads and electricity supply is not up to the mark in this area. Youngsters from these parts migrate to big cities of India like Delhi, Bombay, Bangalore etc. to find jobs.

Assam
Assam Tea is globally known for its quality and taste uniqueness. Wikimedia

Racial Chauvinism

The women of North East are good looking and fashion conscious. Majority of Indian males are sexually frustrated perverts. They harass Northeast women on a daily basis. People from Northeast are racially abused by mainland Indians as “chinkis”, This derogatory term means an individual with slanted eyes.

The same abusive word is also used by the majority of Indians while referring to the Chinese citizens. State of affairs is dreadful in New Delhi, which is the capital city of India. Delhi has many localities known as Urban Villages. These places are just villages in a name. They do not have any farming land.

Owners of houses in these neighborhoods have got tall buildings erected by flouting all building laws, regulations in order to build the maximum number of rooms and put them on rent to earn easy tax-free cash. Northeast migrants to Delhi are overcharged higher rents by these deceitful landlords.

Urban villages, especially in areas around South Delhi are dominated in particular by a community known as ‘Jats’. They own most of the houses in these parts.

The Jat community comprises of male chauvinists of the worst kind on this planet. They earn huge tax-free income every month as rent from Northeasterners and other migrants to Delhi; as a result, most of them don’t do much productive work. They just sit in groups, play cards and drink liquor from morning-night.

All Indian political parties are scared of Jats as they resort to hooliganism to blackmail central as well as state governments in order to get concessions for their community.

These Jat men have made the life of Northeastern women in Delhi a living hell. These Northeastern women cannot go back to their homes in Northeast because they face sexual violence at the hands of Indian army personnel furthermore; there are no job prospects in the region. They are teased, sexually harassed and even raped by these unscrupulous Jat house owners and their family members.

Delhi Police also has plenty of Jat personnel so, these poor, unfortunate Northeast women cannot even complain about their ordeal to the Police.

A few women, who gather the courage to approach police stations to lodge complaints are ridiculed and abused by the Police staff as women of loose character, ‘chinki whores’ etc.

Northeasterners are highly depressed and frustrated due to this daily ordeal. Their culture, language, food habits and norms are all entirely different from the mainland Indians.

Does Unity in Diversity really exist in India?

India prides itself on its so called diversity but these are just plain talks. The real situation on the ground is terrible for all Northeasterners, especially womenfolk.

The citizens of all seven Northeastern states should not tolerate this discrimination anymore. They must pressurize their local politicians to raise this matter seriously with the central government in Delhi alternatively, they could completely boycott their so called political representatives.

“No taxation without representation”, this slogan originated during the 1750’s and 1760’s in U.S.A. It summarized the primary grievance of American colonists in the thirteen colonies against the British Parliament. This ultimately culminated in the successful American Revolution.

No voting without safety & respect

Northeastern citizens across the entire length and breadth of India should unite under the slogan; “No voting without safety & respect.”

Election Commission of India has introduced NOTA (None of the above) on the ballot papers as an option for the voters. It means that the voter does not find any political party’s candidate competent enough, that’s why they exercise the NOTA option by not voting for a candidate of any political party.

If, the ordinary residents of all seven northeastern states unite together and press NOTA during all state assembly as well as Parliamentary elections, then their local politicians, as well as political parties in Delhi, would definitely wake up to their serious grievances and initiate measures to prevent this dastardly treatment meted out to Northeast citizens in India.

FootnoteThis composition is dedicated to three beautiful, kind, compassionate, independent & friendly girls from Northeast India. Suzie, Tanya and Mikii were friends of the author in Delhi during the late 1990’s before we lost contact with each other. These girls were unfortunate victims of numerous atrocities perpetrated on them by Jats.

The writer sincerely hopes that all three of them are presently leading happy, peaceful lives somewhere and women from the Northeast region of India do not face any future trauma in Delhi as well as other cities in India.

– The author is a Master Degree holder in International Tourism & Leisure Studies from Netherlands and is based in China.

10 responses to “Racial Discrimination Faced by North Easterners shows the Dark Side of Modern Society”

  1. I think Author is hit hard by a Jat. Foolish Author….hey Author, You will find least jats in rape charge and in girls teasing. Jats can fire a bullet but can’t tease a girl.

    • Reservation Beggar Jats: Your English level shows that you are a Jaahil Jat frequently hit by an inferiority complex. You are one of those foolish jats, who try to learn English by going to a third grade English Coaching institute run by a half literate Jat brother of yours.

      • Chamaar also speakings. I think You forget mirchpur. Chamaar always compare yourself with jats, but you are not jat . I think I am better educated than you.My morality is higher than you shudra chamaar.. I have chamaar friend also, but I never discriminate any one with their caste. But guys like you make me feel that I am jat and I need to kick your ass.

        Reservation is for poors, they can be in any caste. You forgot about yourself Mr. SC, You are begging from last 70 years. BC..go and repair the shoe’s

        • Abaeyy oyee jatt nahii jhaant haii tuu lagtaa haii kii murthaal waaleyy gang rape tunney hii kareyy haii. Terii jaatiio kii tattii nikkall jaattii haiii chammaroo saeyy chudd chudd kaeyy. Bhadwaeyy bhaand Jhaanth kaahey ko itnaa uchaal rahaa haii. Reservation nahii millaa tohh teraeyy peechwaadey maeyy aagg lag gayyi. Jaa Jhaanth Chuttad Singh kaeyy gaon maeyy jaa aurr latrine saaf kaar. Kuaeyy kaeyy mehndaak, jaato kaeyy bhaand, jaat teraaey muuhh maeyy mutthh kaeyy tujhaeyy 2 rupaiye detaaey hongaeyy. Lagtaa haii tuu Jaato kii randii haii tabhii itnaa bhaunkk rahaa haii.

          • main bhi to yahi kah raha hu ..teri bahan hi chut ki jhaant,,Teri bahan daily hamaare khet me chaara lene aati h..Uski godi me mera hi bachha h. Chaare ke badle me teri bahan se kuchh bhi le lo. Ab to teri bahan ko randi bana diya h 10-10 rs. me deti h. Ambedkar ki kasam 80% chamaari jats ki rakhel rahti h..Apni maa se puchh le, kaun jat uska yaar thha

        • Tu o pakka chamar ki aulaad hai. Chamarron jaise gali galoouch tere khoon me hai. Pata kar le kisi chamar ne to nahi paida kiya tujhe. Jaat to nahi hai tu choora

          • tu hoga chamaar ki aulad..Ye dekh start kisne kiya h. mera first comment ish post ke upar thha. This post is showing wrong thing about Jats. Jats se sab jalte h. Tumhari aukat bhi chamaaro wali hi h haryana me..You all feel jealous to see the status of jats in haryana. Tu pakka chamaar ka beez h jo ish chamaar ka saath de raha h..Sahi naam laga apna post par

            pahle chhedenge nahi phir chhodenge nahi..Yahi jat ka rule h

    • Considering your extremely low English level, you have to buy an English dictionary in order to comprehend these 2 articles. Now, that your misconceptions about Jats have been removed. Shut up your filthy mouth, you proverbial frog in the well. This author has travelled to more countries in the world than you or your Jaahil Khandaan must have seen cities in India. It seems that you like to swallow the ‘cum’ of all filthy jats in the town, who shoot their semen down your dirty mouth. Go and indulge in your gay games. Get lost you bloody illiterate bastard.

      • Guys like you wash my car.Are you victim of murthal rape case? Author travel more countries than me but he doesn’t not know about his country..Dogs like you can bark only here not in front of jats. Did you rape by any jat. Come in front of me BC ..I will show you who are jat. Jats are not frog they are spread all over world.But guys like you are mouse who always underground when you see jats are coming . I think you are from maali Raj Kumar saini brigade. Don’t bark here if you have any problem with jats then come in front of me.

  2. Kyaa kahh rahaa haii baeyy tu.. Teri bahen, biwi, ma aurr beti kii chutto maeyy suwarr kaeyy laudaeyy. Terii Bahen Pamela Singh, Jaatni, India kii pehlii International raand thii jiskaa bhonsdaa England kaeyy bhuddoo naeeyy phadd phadd kaeyy kuwaa banaa diyaa thaa. Terii Biwi, ammaa aurr beti Chamaaro kaeyy laudaeyy chuustii haii aurr Chuttad chaataii kartii haii. Aa jaa Deoba Punjab maeyy, Dikhaa taeyy haii tujhaeey bahen kaeyy laudaeyy Jhaant kii hum Chamar kaiseey tumarri Jaatnio ko kutiyaa banna banna kaeyy chodtaeyy haii. Aurr Tuu tohh mera hii paidaa kiiyaa huaa ek bastard haii, jab terii maa kaeyy uppar hum 10 Chammar chaddey thaeyy. Jaatnio saeyy tohh free maeyy kuchh bhii laeyy lo kyunkii tumm Jat sirf bakchodd ho, laudaeyy tohh tumaharrey khaddey hottaeyy nahii. Terii tohh kaumm kii harr Jaatnii randi haii, free maeyy chuddtii haii. Teraeyy Chuttad Singh neta jiskaeyy laundaeyy kii politics maeyy maa, bahen aur betii sabb chudd chukkii haii ki Kasamm harr jaatnii ek ranndd haii. Apnii maa saeyy tuu pucchh kii 10 Chammaro naeyy ussaeyy jab choddaa thaa unmaeyy saeyy kiss Chamar kii aulad haii tuu bhadwaeyy.

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Assam Government signs a MoU with Google India to expand Internet Connectivity

It will provide Internet connections to 26,000 villages and 1,500 tea garden areas in Assam

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Assam Government has signed MoU with Google India to expand Internet Connectivity
Assam Government has signed MoU with Google India to expand Internet Connectivity. Pixabay

Guwahati, Assam, September 8, 2017: The Assam government on Thursday signed a MoU with Google India to take Internet connectivity to the remotest part of the north-eastern state.

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said the government would work to provide Internet connections to 26,000 villages and 1,500 tea garden areas in Assam under the MoU and thus increase digital literacy.

Information Technology Secretary Nitin Khare and Google India Country Head (Policy) Chetan Krishnaswami signed the Memorandum of Understanding in the presence of Sonowal.

“Technology rules the roost in the 21st century and the state government has upped the ante to use technology to carry forward the fruits of development to the remotest parts of Assam,” the Chief Minister said.

He said the ties with Google was a way forward to strongly pitch Guwahati as a natural gateway to the South-East Asian countries.

Sonowal said his government in sync with the Centre was working for the success of Startup initiative but the success of such programmes sans technology would be a distant dream.

“The MoU will be used as a launchpad to achieve the state government’s vision of women empowerment, skill development, and universal education,” he said.

The Chief Minister asked the Information Technology Department to take steps to make technology acceptable and favourable among the rural populace so as to catalyse rural development. (IANS)